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A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material that is formed within the kidney or urinary tract. One in 20 people will develop a kidney stone at some point in their life.
What are Kidney Stones?
There are several different types of kidney stones and they vary depending on the material that they are made of.
The first three most common kinds of kidney stones are made up of calcium oxalate, uric acid, or struvite. The least common kind is made up of cystine.
Kidney stones affect men more frequently than women. It is estimated that kidney stones are so painful that they send almost three million Americans to the doctor each year, including over 500,000 trips to the emergency rooms.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Kidney Stones
The main symptom of kidney stones is severe pain in the lower abdomen or flank. The flank is the area over the kidney, which is found on each side of the lower back. Another symptom that is often experienced is blood in the urine or dark yellow or concentrated urine.
The diagnosis of a kidney stone would start with an examination and imaging tests. The provider will want to determine the size, shape, and location of any kidney stones, which will help the specialist in guiding their treatment plan.
Kidney Stones in Cystinuria
Kidney stones can also be formed by people who have a rare disorder called Cystinuria. Cystinuria is a rare inherited metabolic disorder characterized by excessive amounts of undissolved cystine in the urine, which can lead to the formation of crystals and stones.
It is estimated that approximately 33,000 people are living with Cystinuria in the US today. It affects approximately 1 in 10,000 people and the age of onset of symptoms is usually between 10 and 30.
Kidney Stone Prevention and Treatment
Once diagnosed with a kidney stone, the doctor may try to let the stone pass without surgery, depending on the location and size. They may prescribe certain medications to help with less acid production in the urine.
If the stone is too large or if it is blocking the flow of urine from the bladder or kidney, or if an infection is a risk, it will need to be removed.
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding coffee, tea, and beverages with high-fructose corn syrup
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Reducing excess salt in diet
Financial Assistance for Kidney Stones
Patient Services, Inc. has an established fund to help patients with kidney stones, even those with Cystinuria. PSI provides financial assistance with copays and premiums.
To see if you qualify for assistance, check out our prescreening tool and apply today. You can also call us at 1-800-366-7741.