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Not All Stones are Created Equal

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Diamonds may be forever, but some other stones just stick around longer than you’d like!

That’s right… diamonds are forever, unless you take steps against it. But the “diamonds” here aren’t the sparkling ones. Rather, these are ones less than desired… the rocks in you. In the kidneys, to be precise. Let’s take a tongue-in-cheek look at this tiny little villain and see what might be done to keep him in check!

Some stones you want to keep, some you’d rather not! | Image Credit: Larson Jewelers

You Rock My World

Object of our obsession now. Pledge of poor health, indeed. These rocks in the kidneys, their journey is difficult to predict. Kidney stones could be dormant for years on end, or they might just decide to drop down into the bladder one fine day, causing much havoc along the way. Excruciating pain? You bet. Or it could come with bleeding in urine, or vomiting. No fun for anyone. In fact, an understatement if it were described to be just feeling unwell. They may be tiny stones, but they can cause boulder-size pain!

So you may be asking… Am I the one? Am I at risk of getting kidney stones? Well, it depends. Some people have higher chances than others. More than likely a combination of factors lead to rock formation. Dietary choices, lifestyle, or obesity can all play a part. But these are just a few factors. The others include underlying medical heath issues such as kidney abnormality. Nonetheless, once a stone is formed, you are more likely to get another one in future. But there are things you can do to help prevent it from happening in the first place.

Actual kidney stones… you can see why they’re so painful! | Image Credit: NIH

So… man in the mirror, make that change! It is not especially difficult to make a change, especially the minor ones. But don’t wait until it’s too late. Start now. First, drink your water, take your fluids, rehydrate! But some drinks might lead to stone formation, such as sugary or sport drinks, due to the drink contents altering chemical balances in the body. We mustn’t just work hard, but work smart also. So once more, drink hard and drink smart! I can’t emphasise that enough. In fact, as the saying goes, make lemonade out of lemons. Squeeze a little greatness from the citrus into your water, and drink the elixir. But water alone isn’t sufficient. What else? Avoid too much of all that great food. In that sense, limit your salt and animal protein intake. Moderation is what we should strive for. Exercise helps, as well, so don’t forget to increase the mileage on your treadmill, too. Obesity is another associated stone factor. Losing weight, in this regard, is the aim. One stone can reduce the chance of another. How? Well, as your exercise achievements reach new milestones, your chances of getting a kidney stone plunges (or perhaps better to say, it gets flushed).

Drink plenty of water to lower your risk of kidney stones | Image Credit: Healthline

How to Unearth These Rocks?

Well, it depends on a few things. How much does the stone hurt you? Any discomfort or pain should guide you first and foremost. Beyond that, many times, it’s just down to that old real estate maxim… location, location, location. Firstly, the pebble’s location. Chiefly, we need to know the stone location along the kidney tract, in addition to its size, hardness, composition, etc. This is valuable information to decide next step forward. Secondly, another factor is your location. When the stone is still tiny, you probably do not require treatment just yet. Just observe. Someone who travels a lot, or works offshore, might then reconsider an early intervention, as a medical emergency away from home can be extremely inconvenient and costly. Lastly, the hospital’s location. Regarding stone removal, there are various choices, and different medical centres might provide facilities which are slightly different. The process, for example, could be entirely internal via surgery or minimally invasive, using a shockwave machine. Shockwave!? That’s right, and it’s not a shocking new option at all. It’s actually been around for a while – the shockwaves break up the stones for easier, less painful passage – but the technology keeps improving.

The determining factor now remains the eyes. As a kidney stone can only be located using external image guidance, accurate visibility is key in this regard. If you have some of the risk factors, it’s wise to consult your doctor or a urologist for preventive care and screening.

Sharp back pains could be caused by kidney stones | Image Credit: Healthline

In short, as you are busy chasing your bright shiny diamonds, don’t let the kidney stones knock you down. Few things can sideline your dreams like poor health or medical emergencies, and kidney stones can surely qualify as both! So much like hardship in life, the best strategy is to let it pass. Stay well, stay healthy, and hope for better days ahead in 2021!

Information provided courtesy of Dr Goh Eng Hong, Consultant Urologist, Prince Court Medical Centre

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