Kidney stones are ball-like structures that form in the kidney and other organs in the urinary system of a person. Kidney stones form as a result of accumulation of very toxic and acidic materials filtered from the blood by the kidney. Kidney stones also result from different infections in the body, especially urinary tract infections.
What is Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition where the body is not able to produce enough insulin, which is used by the body to obtain energy. The body may also be unable to utilize available insulin well. Insulin is a substance responsible in regulating the level of blood sugars in the body. Once there is insufficient insulin in the body, that means there is an increased level of insulin, which causes problems to the body's organs, such as the kidneys. Type 2 diabetes poses a higher risk of developing kidney stones than type 1 diabetes.
Relationship between Diabetes and Kidney Stones
Kidney stones and diabetes share several risk factors that can make kidney stones a common condition to develop alongside diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. Here are some factors that may affect the formation of kidney stones:
- Insulin quantity: Diabetes equates to a low production of insulin in the body. As a result of this, there is a high accumulation of blood sugars in the body because insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Subsequently, high levels of sugars in the blood is one of the main causes of kidney stones. When there are high amounts of sugars in the body, they are filtered from the kidney and accumulate in the urinary system because there is lack of fluids to dissolve these substances.
- Obesity: Type 2 diabetes is directly related to obesity. Increased weight causes minimal production of insulin in the body, which leads to high levels of sugar in the body, that can cause kidney stones. Once a person is overweight, then there is little fluid in the body and increased mineral salts, which can lead to the production of kidney stones.
- Increase in amounts of uric acids in the body: People with diabetes are known to have high production of uric acids in the body. This increase in uric acid can be detected by an albumin test. This is brought about by high blood sugar levels. High concentration of uric acids also cause kidney stones, especially uric acid stones - a type of kidney stone. Acidic substances reduce amounts of fluids in the body and solidify to form kidney stones.
- Medications: There are a number of medications used in treating diabetes that cause kidney stones. Patients that take over the counter drugs for the self medication of diabetes will find themselves especially at risk for the development of kidney stones.
- High blood pressure: Diabetics often tend to feel tired quickly, due to variations of sugar levels in their body, which can happen from improper eating and unmonitored exercise routines. In these circumstances, the blood pressure might be high, and if not treated on time, kidneys might slow down their functioning as high BP damages the nephron capillaries. Nephron capillaries take care of absorption and secretion of blood and acts as a filtration unit for the kidney. Thus, your body retains more salts and water than needed. In the long term, this leads to kidney stones.
- Diabetes diet: Whenever a person is suffering from diabetes there are a number of foods that are recommended to prevent or help in treating the condition. However, some of these foods contribute highly to the formation of kidney stones. Some of these foods may include beans, nuts and fish. These are foods that increase the amounts of oxalates in the body which is a factor in the formation of kidney stones.
- Dehydration: It is a well-known fact that, people who are diabetic tend to feel thirsty and have a need to urinate often. So, when a diabetic does not consume enough water, salts and minerals cannot be pushed out of the body. This accumulation eventually leads to kidney stones.
- Damaged nerves: Diabetes can cause nerve damage in the body if not treated well. When nerves are strained or damaged, passing urine becomes difficult, as there is a strain on the bladder. If the bladder is full often, and urine remains in it for a long time, infections can occur, which will then lead to kidney stones.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
These are symptoms that will be experienced by a diabetes patient when kidney stones start forming.
- Pain around the lower back and the abdomen. It lasts from 30-50minutes.
- Frequent urination
- Anemia or lack of blood in the body
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle cramps
- Pain when urinating
- Swelling in the ankle or gaining weight
- Loss of appetite
Prevention Measures to Avoid Kidney Stones Brought by Diabetes
Kidney stones brought about by diabetes can be prevented by following these methods.
- Early treatment of diabetes: In case you have diabetes, it is always recommended to get a uric acid test done once in 3 to 6 months. This helps to prevent increase of acids in the body, which can in turn help control formation of kidney stones.
- Monitoring glucose levels: Keep a tab on your blood glucose levels to understand if your body requires or is producing more insulin than needed. This regulation will help you understand your body better.
- Watch your diet and exercise: Kidney stones and complications in diabetes, both can occur when you consume food with high amounts of salt. So, make a diet chart for yourself and eat the right quantity and right type of food, suited to your body.
- Intake of medications with low amounts of acids and oxalates. In treatment of diabetes a patient should prefer medications with low acids to prevent kidney stones as well.
The Bottom Line
People suffering from type 2 diabetes are at a very high risk of suffering from kidney stones. Therefore, if you have diabetes or have already suffered from kidney stones previously, try to get an analysis about the root cause of these stones. Regular screening of the kidneys and a change in eating habits, medications and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can keep you strong and healthy in the long run.