If you’re experiencing pain in your abdomen or changes to your bladder functions, you may be dealing with kidney stones. Although typically harmless, kidney stones can be difficult to pass, causing discomfort and increasing your risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs). At Gaia Urology P.C., Susan Pursell, MD, helps patients treat their kidney stones and reduce the risk of them returning. The practice has two convenient locations in Amesbury and Danvers, Massachusetts. To learn more about treating and preventing kidney stones, book your appointment by phone today.
Kidney stones are mineral and salt deposits that form in the kidneys and can vary in size. The bigger they are, the more difficult they are to pass without medical intervention. When caught early, kidney stones usually leave no lasting damage to the urinary tract.
The most common cause of kidney stones is concentrated urine. Urine contains salt, minerals, and uric acid. If the urine becomes too concentrated, these substances can crystallize and stick together, forming kidney stones.
This typically happens as a result of decreased fluid intake. Diets high in sugar, salt, and protein can also lead to kidney stones.
There are other forms of kidney stones like struvite stones that form in response to a UTI, and cystine stones, that form from excess excretion of cysteine. In addition to diet and hydration, genetics also play a role in kidney stones.
Family history and certain genetic conditions can determine your likelihood of developing them.
The most common symptoms of kidney stones include, but are not limited to:
Although kidney stones can cause noticeable symptoms, the only way to know if you have them is to speak with a doctor at Gaia Urology.
Before you begin treatment, your doctor first has to confirm your condition. Depending on your case, the Gaia Urology team may perform:
Your provider uses a sample of your blood to test for levels of calcium and uric acid. High levels of either in the blood can signal kidney stones.
The Gaia Urology team uses the urine test to check the levels of stone-forming and stone-preventing substances in your body. You may be required to provide two separate samples over the course of two days.
X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds can be used to search for kidney stones in your urinary tract. This allows your doctor to detect the presence of even the smallest kidney stones.
Once your diagnosis is confirmed, there are a number of methods that can be used to treat your condition. Increasing your water intake can help flush out your system if your kidney stones are small.
Medications are also an effective option. Your provider prescribes alpha-blockers that help relax the muscles making it easier to pass the kidney stones.
The Gaia Urology team also specializes in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones that are too large to pass. Procedures include lithotripsy, a method of breaking up large kidney stones using shock waves, as well as holmium laser treatment, which uses lasers to unblock the urinary tract.
To speak with an experienced urologist about treating your kidney stones, book an appointment at Gaia Urology P.C. by phone today.