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What Are Kidney Stones?: Identification, Causes, Effects, And Treatments For Kidney Stones

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. seek medical assistance for kidney stones each year. In the presence of kidney stones, urethral pain, as well as localized abdominal and lower back pain, are a common occurrence.

Identification of Kidney Stones

The urethra is the anatomical structure that serves as the opening to the bladder. In women, the opening is located just in front of the vagina, and in men the urethra is on the tip of the penis. Urethral pain can present as a dull pain, or a throbbing pain depending on the severity of the problem. Kidney stones can be identified by taking an X-ray of the bladder and other abdominal structures in the urinary tract. On an X-ray, the kidney stones are visible as white spots.

Causes of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard, stone-like objects that develop from the chemicals in a person’s urine. These “stones” can cause backups of urine in the urethra, or other parts of the urinary tract. There is a positive correlation between the amount of uric acid present in the urinary tract, and the probability of kidney stone formation.

Effects of Kidney Stones

While most small kidney stones pass without the person knowing it, the blockages from the larger stones can cause pain. It is this pain which typically motivates people to seek medical assistance. In some cases kidney stones can cause damage to the urinary tract in the form of scar tissue. The resulting scar tissue can make it difficult for urine to pass through the urinary tract at the rate it is supposed to.

Treatment of Kidney Stones

A physician can prescribe medication to manage the pain associated with kidney stones. Be sure to consult with a doctor before taking an over-the-counter pain killer when kidney stones are present. Kidney stones can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the severity. In most cases, treatment consists of simply waiting for the stone to pass out of the body. In more extreme circumstances, when the stone cannot pass on its own, treatments can include shock wave therapy or surgical intervention to break up and remove stones.

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, increasing water intake, reducing salt intake, and including adequate calcium in the diet can help to prevent kidney stones. Also avoiding foods such as chocolate and organ meats, which raise the level of uric acid in the urine, can assist in this process. If kidney stones are a recurring problem, and lifestyle modifications alone are not managing them, a physician can prescribe medications to help prevent the stones. Overall prevention of kidney stones should be the ultimate goal. By doing so people avoid the painful effects, and potential damage to the urinary tract.

Recognizing And Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis: It’s Important To Know What To Look For Concerning Blood Clots

The term “deep vein thrombosis” refers to blood clots that occur in deep veins, often in the legs, although they can occur in other areas as well. Blood clots can cause pain and other symptoms, but in some cases there are no symptoms. These clots sometimes disappear on their own, but there are major risks associated with them, the most serious being that a blood clot can break free and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of Blood Clot

As mentioned above, blood clots sometimes have no obvious symptoms. When symptoms do occur, common ones are swelling in the affected leg or area, pain in area, and/or redness and warmth. If any of these symptoms are experienced, please see a doctor right away.

It’s also important to be aware of the signs of a pulmonary embolism, in case a clot were to break free. These symptoms include chest pain that worsens when the person coughs or takes a deep breath, a sudden and unexplained shortness of breath, and producing blood when coughing, according to the Mayo Clinic in their staff article, “Deep Vein Thrombosis,” on August 8, 2009. Other signs to be aware of are feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or unexplained fainting.

Causes and Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis

People are more likely to experience blood clots if they are immobile for long periods, such as during long car or plane rides, or when on bed rest because of illness or injury. Certain inherited blood clotting disorders can also put people at risk for deep vein thrombosis. Those who have a personal history of blood clots are also more likely to get them again.

Certain lifestyle factors also put a person more at risk for blood clots. For instance, smoking, being overweight, taking birth control pills and being pregnant all put someone at higher risk of getting clots. People who have heart failure are also more likely to develop blood clots.

To reduce the risk of developing blood clots, avoid long periods of being immobile as much as possible, lose excess weight, quit smoking and control blood pressure, as high blood pressure also increases deep vein thrombosis risk.

For those who have already had blood clots, make sure to see a doctor regularly and take any prescribed medications exactly as directed. Ask the doctor about guidelines for vitamin K intake, as it may be recommended to limit foods that are high in vitamin K, such as soybean products and leafy green vegetables.

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Treatments for Blood Clots

One of the most common treatments for blood clots is blood thinning medication, such as Coumadin. These medications will not get rid of clots, but will keep them from getting bigger and help to keep new clots from developing. Some doctors recommend compression stockings for patients with blood clots to reduce swelling.

In an article provided to Vascularweb.org by The Society of Vascular Surgery on October 14, 2009, it’s reported that another possible treatment for blood clots can be the insertion of a screen into the a large vein in the abdomen, the vena cava. The purpose of this screen is to prevent the clot from being able to travel to the lungs in the event the clot breaks free and travels. It is often used for people who for one reason or another cannot take blood thinning medication.

Deep vein thrombosis can be a very serious condition, and it’s important to see a doctor or go to the hospital if symptoms of blood clot present, such as pain, swelling or redness in legs. Preventing this condition by not remaining immobile for long periods and practicing good self care is also a good idea.