According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)’s recent report, around 12% of the total population in India suffers from kidney stones.
The formation of stones in the body is a health complication faced by numerous people in the country every year. These stones are formed due to the accumulation of different components like Potassium, salt, or protein waste products.
The stones formed in the body can range different in size. However, even a small one can highly affect a person. From causing unbearable pain to fever, an individual with stones in their body has to go through several complications that affect their daily life.
You might have heard of Kidney and Gallbladder stones. But do you know that stones can form even in other parts of your body? Yes, they most certainly can. To learn in detail about stones in the body, please continue reading. This blog will help you find answers to questions such as “What causes these stones? What are the early signs? When to see a doctor?
What are the different kinds of stones?
Stones are not just found in the Kidney and Gallbladder. Here are a few of the locations in the body where stones are found-
Each of the above types is named after the body part where they are formed. But what causes their formation? The next section will answer this question for you and help you to know the formation cause behind each of the above-listed stone types.
Possible causes of stones in the body
Stones in different parts of the body are caused due to varying reasons. As a result, mentioning a single or common cause is not possible. Below is a brief description of the causes of each type of stone found in the body.
They are formed when there is an increased presence of crystal-forming substances in the urine, and then the fluid in the urine can dilute. These substances can be uric acid, calcium, or oxalate. It is usually caused due to lack of water in the body, obesity, too much or too little exercise, weight loss surgery, or eating food with high salt or sugar.
Gallbladder stones are also known as Gallstones. They are caused when the bile contains high amounts of bilirubin or cholesterol. It can also be caused if the Gallbladder does not empty completely or enough, resulting in a concentration of bile and forming Gallstones.
Although rare, these stones can be caused due to diseases like diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease. These stones can also form due to genetics, surgeries, or changes in the intestines and stomach.
Throat or tonsil stones are caused when mucus, food particles, and bacteria accumulate in small pockets on the tonsils. This can be due to improper oral hygiene or the structure of the tonsils.
Prostate stones are poppy seed-sized stones formed due to calcium accumulation in the prostate gland. It is common in middle and old-aged men.
Stones in the bladder occur when one cannot empty their bladder. Prostate enlargement, damaged nerves, inflammation, or kidney stones are some of the reasons behind it.
The cause behind the formation of stones in the mouth is not yet known.
Nose stones are formed when salts or minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron deposit on an intranasal foreign body.
Usually, Pancreas stones are formed when a stone from Gallbladder is passed through bile ducts to the Pancreas.
Veins stones are caused when the blood moves slowly in the veins and eventually clots. This clot with time hardens and converts into stone.
How are Kidney stones different from other kinds of stones?
The difference between Kidney stones and stones found in other body parts lies in their causes. Stones in other body parts are formed due to the accumulation of different components of concentration of the fluid present in them. For example, Nasal stones are formed when debris or other particles accumulate over an intranasal foreign body. Similarly, Gallstones are caused due to high cholesterol or bilirubin in bile or due to the concentration of bile. However, the cause behind Kidney stones is quite different.
Kidney stones are formed due to increased crystal-forming substances in the urine. These substances increase to the extent that the fluid in urine is not enough to dilute them. Eventually, the accumulation of crystal-forming substances like oxalate, calcium, phosphate, uric acid, cystine, and xanthine forms a stone in the kidney. The increase in these substances can be caused due to various reasons. The reasons include drinking less water, obesity, weight loss surgeries, excessive or less exercise, or as a result of eating food with excessive sugar or salt.
When should you see a doctor?
The stones formed in your body are small. But, if you do not see a doctor on time, they might get bigger due to increased accumulation and cause severe complications. Hence, it is always recommended to visit a healthcare expert when you observe any symptoms of stone formation in your body. Early detection allows doctors to treat early and prevent severe complications. Signs like excruciating pain on either side of where your kidneys are or a feeling like you are not able to pass urine freely are generally most common.
Can stones be treated? What are the available treatments?
Fortunately, stones can be treated. The treatment used by medical experts depends on their location and severity. Below is a brief explanation of different treatment methods for kidney and Gallbladder stones.
Treatments for Kidney stones
Stones in Kidneys can be treated either by using medications or with surgeries depending on how severe the case is. Medications are used to decrease pain, relax the ureter to let the stone pass with urine and manage symptoms like nausea and vomiting. The medications and remedies that help you urinate more often to dissolve the stone are proven to be very successful.
Kidney stone treatment using surgical methods include:
Open Stone Surgery,
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy, and
Gallbladder stone treatment
Unfortunately, there are not many options to treat Gallstones. The most common treatment to remove gallstones from the bile duct is Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP). Unlike other extreme stage surgeries, this doesn't involve the removal of your gallbladder.
How else to remove stones in Gallbladder without an operation? Gallstones can also be removed using bile acids like Ursodeoxycholic Acid and Chenodeoxycholic Acid to dissolve Gallstones. However, it would be best to do what your health expert suggests.
Stones might grow in size if left undetected for a long time. If untreated, they can hinder your daily life and cause several problems ranging from mild to severe effects. Paying attention to the early symptoms is essential, and consult a doctor as soon as possible for its diagnosis and treatment.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri email@example.com +91 9811618704 Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.