The kidneys function as the body’s filtration system responsible for filtering the blood. It removes harmful by-products produced by the body such as hydrogen, ammonium, potassium, and uric acid.
Aside from keeping our blood clear of toxins, the kidneys also keep the fluids in our body in a state of balance. When our body fluids are balanced, important ions and electrolytes freely move between tissue membranes, permitting them to reach our cells. Additionally, the kidneys help maintain the right amount of water inside our bodies, releasing excess in the form of urine.
The kidneys also convert Vitamin D into a substance that helps the body absorb calcium. they also play a role in the production of red blood cells, as well as regulate blood pressure.
Because of its role in the filtering the blood, our kidneys are prone to stone formation. This happens when large amounts of minerals filtered from the blood accumulate and harden inside them. These stones block and damage the important structures inside the kidneys called nephrons, which are the functional units of the kidneys. Damaged nephrons cause the kidneys to malfunction, which can later progress into kidney disease.
Nephrolithiasis or kidney stone disease, can remain under the radar until one of them becomes dislodged and decides to force its way down narrow tubes called ureters, which serve as passageways for urine to reach the urinary bladder. When a kidney stone’s rough surface scrapes the inner walls of the ureters, patients feel extreme discomfort.
Sadly, it is only when a patient feels discomfort that he goes to the doctor to have himself checked.
Here are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones that people should be aware of.
1. Bloody Urine
The symptom that often causes alarm to most patients with kidney stones is bloody urine, medically known as hematuria. When a kidney stone’s rough surface scrapes the soft tissues lining the inside of the kidneys and the ureters, tiny capillaries become damaged, causing them to bleed. The blood mixes with the urine, giving it a light-pink to dark red color, depending on how much blood leaks out. The sight of brownish or bright red urine often throws people off, especially when it happens to them for the first time. Blood can also leak into the urine in minute amounts which can only be detected via a lab exam called a urinalysis.