Urologists are physicians who treat diseases of the urinary tract: kidneys, bladders, prostate, as well as the genitalia. They help people having trouble with urination, whether it be too frequently or too infrequently. Erectile dysfunction, cancers of the urinary tract and incontinence are common disorders that are treated by urologists. Procedures are performed both in the office and in the operating room. Many people suffer from kidney stones, particularly here in Kentucky which is considered part of the “Stone Belt.” Stones are diagnosed, treated and prevented by urologists.
Kidney Stones 101
Kidney stones impact between 10 and 15 percent of the United States population.
How do you get kidney stones?
They begin when urine becomes supersaturated, resulting in the formation of salts, which develop into crystals. Once a crystal is formed, it spurs more crystal formation, resulting in growth and eventually the formation of a kidney stone.
What do kidney stones look like?
There are many different types of kidney stones. In general, about 75 percent of kidney stones are calcium-based. Regardless of the type, most stones are treated the same. However, the type does help us tailor dietary alterations or medications to help prevent the recurrence of stones.
What causes kidney stones?
Diet and genetics are the two biggest risk factors, but there are several others:
- Gender. Historically, men are two to three times more likely to get stones than women.
- Race. Caucasians are more likely to develop kidney stones.
- Age. Stone occurrence peaks in people aged 35-45 years.
- Geography and climate. Areas with hot and dry climates tend to have a higher incidence of stone disease.
- Chronic dehydration. Chronic lack of appropriate fluid intake.
- Presence of metabolic syndrome. A condition characterized by a cluster of disease processes including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels.
The following may be signs of kidney stones that need a doctor's help:
- Extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away
- Blood in your urine
- Fever and chills
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
- A burning feeling when you urinate