Healthy Living

Will My Kidney Stones Result in Future Kidney Problems?

Will My Kidney Stones Result in Future Kidney Problems?

Key Takeaways

  • If kidney stones are not treated in adequate time, they can lead to future problems. 
  • In most cases, kidney stones can be treated by oral medicines or small surgery. 
  • It is common for someone who has previously had a kidney stone to develop another one.  

A kidney stone is a condition that occurs when the minerals and salts present in the urine become concentrated in high levels and eventually tend to crystallize. These crystallized formations can be seen as stones, and they often stick together. Kidney stones mostly form in the kidney. They start as small stones, either yellow or brown in color, and can grow large in size even filling the hollow of the kidney. These stones which include substances like oxalates and phosphates usually should dissolve in the urine and flow out of the body. But when a person does not consume enough water, these crystals are deposited in the ureter, which is the passage tube between the kidney and bladder. This deposition often causes pain when a person urinates, and symptoms like lower back pain, fever, nausea and vomiting can also be experienced.

There are different types of kidney stones, and their type depends on their shape, size and the minerals that led to their formation. Whether it is the most common calcium stone, uric acid stone, infection stone or cysteine stone, if not treated on time, kidney stones might lead to future problems in the patient.

Conditions under which kidney stones can lead to future problems

The following factors might cause a person with kidney stones to suffer from future problems:

  • Formation of high number of stones in the body
  • Formation of very big stones in the body
  • Undergoing late treatment
  • Type of treatment undertaken
  • Type of kidney stones the patient has
  • Location of the kidney stone
  • Failure to take preventive measures against kidney stones

Future problems that might be experienced by kidney stone victims

In most cases, kidney stones can be treated by oral medicines or small surgery. But when left unattended for a long time, or in cases in which the kidney stone is infectious, a person might experience one of the below problems.

Long-term wounds

Whenever a person has kidney stones, they form within the kidney and other parts of the urinary tract system such as the ureter and the bladder. These stones are always of different sizes and shapes. As the stones move within the system tubes, they rub against organ walls causing damage and wounds on the tissue linings. Sometimes one can observe blood while passing urine, due to kidney stones. As a result of these wounds, a patient also experiences pain around the back and in the bladder, even after the condition has healed. You may also experience continued pain in the urethra especially if you had passed out many stones.

Recurrence of the infection

Scientific studies point out that there are high chances of recurrence of kidney stones among people who have already faced such conditions previously. It can be due to dehydration, untreated urinary infections, heavy salt intake, drinking high amounts of carbonated drinks or an improper diet. If you have a kidney stone, it is estimated that you have more than a 50 percent chance of getting another kidney stone in the next five to seven years. Getting kidney stones repeatedly and undergoing several urological treatments and procedures for kidney stones can also cause kidney failure.

Kidney damage or injury

Although kidney stones are not highly untreatable, neglecting the problem can cause damage to the kidney in two ways. Firstly, when the kidney stone is very large in size, it can get stuck in the kidney rather than moving to the bladder and being passed out. Slowly these stones lead to degeneration or atrophy of the kidney, due to their continuous blockage. This in turn can weaken the kidney, dilate it and reduce its ability to function normally.

Secondly, the kidney can be damaged through struvite stones. These are also known as infection stones and they can grow large enough to completely block the kidney’s hollow. Even the urinary tract gets infected and one can experience chronic urine infections, dead kidney or even death if these stones are not treated at the correct time.

Urinary tract infections

When kidney stones are formed, they are always made up of very toxic acidic salts and other mineral substances. As these stones accumulate and get stuck in the bladder or the ureter, they attract bacteria which causes chronic infections to the urinary tract. Such urinary tract infections can also cause kidney failure.

Tissue damage around the kidney

This is a type of problem brought about by the type of treatment mechanism a patient uses. When you use surgery options like shock wave lithotripsy to break the stones, it might cause damage to kidney tissues and neighboring tissues. Vibrations produced by shock waves can cause breakage of the tissues, which though rare is a possibility.

Sepsis in the body

When the urinary bladder is full and kidney stones block the passage of urine for a long time, the kidney stops functioning effectively. This prolonged kidney infection can lead to a condition called sepsis or blood poisoning, which can spread to the whole body and needs quick treatment and early detection. If not, this can result in death of a person.

Chronic kidney disease

People with problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, obesity, etc. are more likely to get kidney stones repeatedly, which can be chronic in nature. Such people also have a high risk of getting heart attacks and thus should control their conditions with accurate treatments.

Bleeding or damage during surgery

Kidney stone removal surgeries these days are pretty effective and less time consuming, depending on size and location of stones. But in rare cases, one might face conditions like bleeding which causes severe pain, future infections and also a slight risk of damage to the ureter. Therefore, care should be taken to follow the guidelines before and after the surgery and continue medications as prescribed by the doctor.

The bottom line

To avoid such future problems relating to kidney stones, a patient is required to get the right treatment at the right time and also understand the prevention measures that are necessary to avoid further formation of kidney stones. If the kidney stone problem is genetic or you feel pain while passing urine, immediately contact your physician and follow up on the treatment procedure.