(BPT) - As the weather starts to warm up, it's good to stay hydrated to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of developing stones. According to the Mayo Clinic, heat, humidity and dehydration can lead to increased incidences of kidney stones during summer. These stones can cause sharp pain in your side and back. Some patients liken the pain to what is experienced during childbirth. Stones that don't pass on their own should not be left untreated. Untreated kidney stones can lead to urinary and bladder infections, kidney damage, kidney failure and even cancer.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard mineral and salt deposits that form inside your kidneys. They're fairly common, affecting 1 in 11 Americans, and research shows that incidences of kidney stones have risen over time in the U.S.
There are several reasons why you may develop kidney stones, including diet, medications, supplements, medical conditions and hydration. Also, if a family member has suffered from stones, you'll likely develop them too.
If you have kidney stones, you likely won't feel symptoms until they move inside your kidney or pass through the ureters - the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. If a stone gets stuck, it can block urine flow, cause your kidneys to swell and the ureter to cramp. Once a stone gets lodged, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain in the side or back that comes in waves and varying intensity
- Pain or burning during urination
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
While kidney stones are painful and scary, there are treatments to help you manage your symptoms.
Standard treatments and a new option
Small kidney stones generally pass on their own or with a bit of help from medications to help your muscles relax so you can pass the stone. However, larger stones that can't pass through your urinary tract may need more extensive treatments.
Depending on the stone's type, size and location, your doctor may recommend surgery or scope to remove the stone.
There have also been recent innovations in the medical field that may make it easier to treat kidney stones. MOSES laser technology enables surgeons to remove kidney stones more effectively and completely. The laser can break stones of any type, size and shape so they can be fragmented and dusted, leading to easier removal by the surgeon or comfortable passing by the patient.
Even large stones can be treated more efficiently because of the laser's ability to fire multiple pulses. The technology reduces surgery time and risk of recurrence.
Plus, the procedure is done on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to go home the same day and avoid extended hospital stays.
Jack Osmanski is a 66-year-old retiree who enjoys spending his free time hunting with his son and reading. When he developed a five-millimeter kidney stone (about the size of a pencil eraser), he felt like he had been stabbed in the back. Luckily, doctors were able to treat Jack with MOSES.
What's most impressive about this treatment is the laser's flexibility. "The biggest benefit of this technology is that it can get into the hard-to-reach areas of the kidney in a non-invasive way," said Ross Simon, MD, Florida Urology Partners. "By destroying as many stones present in your kidneys, the MOSES laser can reduce the risk of more kidney stones in the short-term."
Because of MOSES, Jack had a quick outpatient procedure and started to feel better within a couple of days. He's now back to enjoying his retirement pain-free.