Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs are infections that affect any part of your urinary tract, such as kidneys, urethra, ureters, and bladder. These infections are the most common type of bacterial infection across the world.
However, they are not the only reason why you might experience abdominal pain. There is a possibility that you might be suffering from renal colic. Renal colic occurs when urinary stones act as obstacles or block a part of your urinary tract.
Let us have a detailed look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments of renal colic so that you can easily differentiate it from other infections and conditions, and seek the help of your primary healthcare provider in case you have any suspicion that you might be suffering from it.
What is Renal Colic?
Renal colic is a mild to extreme pain in your abdominal area, sides, or lower back that occurs when stones block the urinary pathway.
Kidney stones are a very common kind of urinary tract stone. However, stones anywhere in your urinary tract can be extremely painful. These stones are hard pieces of minerals. They can be formed due to an existing urinary tract infection.
You might develop these stones when the minerals in your urine come together and crystallize. Some minerals in the urine include struvite, calcium oxalate, and uric acid.
The stones can be as small as a speck of dust or as large as a golf ball. Sometimes, you might observe small stones in your urine. However, big stones can be very painful and worrisome. These stones are responsible for your renal colic pain.
Symptoms of Renal Colic
Let us have a look at the common symptom of renal colic:
- Renal colic pains come and go. However, some patients complain of continuing intense pains.
- You might experience renal colic pain when you urinate because the stones block the path of urine.
- This pain is usually present in your abdominal area or lower back.
- In certain people, this pain travels to other areas of the body such as your sides and groin.
- In some cases, your urine output might decrease significantly.
- The color of your urine might change to brown or red because of blood.
- Your urine might seem hazy or cloudy.
- You might witness little stones in your urine. Stones under 5 mm easily pass with the urine while bigger stones might need special medical attention.
- Patients often feel the need to urinate or pee frequently.
- In some serious cases, these symptoms are accompanied by fever. You might also feel nausea for no reason at all. In case you are constantly vomiting or throwing up, seek medical help immediately.
Causes of Renal Colic
Renal colic has a variety of causes. Let’s have a look at ‘em:
- You develop renal colic when a substance, often a stone, blocks your urinary tract.
- Kidney stones commonly block the urinary pathway. Family history and obesity can lead to the formation of these stones. Dehydration is also a common cause.
- Bladder stones can also cause renal colic pain. Inflammation and a pre-existing urinary tract infection can result in these stones.
- A diet that is rich in proteins can also lead to stone formation
- You experience renal colic pain when one of these stones is lodged in your ureter. The stone, when large in size, blocks the passage and stretches the walls of the ureter, causing intense pain.
- Other times, blood clots or dead tissue matter can block the track.
Diagnosis and Prevention of Renal Colic
Let’s look at the diagnosis of renal colic pain and how to prevent it:
- Your doctor might suggest you undergo some blood and urine tests to pinpoint the cause of your pain. These results reveal any kind of infection in your urinary tract.
- Any infection in the urinary pathway can lead to the formation of stones. You will need to get an x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound to see if a bladder or kidney stone is the cause of your severe pain.
- Once the cause of your pain is detected, the doctor can begin administering appropriate treatment.
Prevention is far better than cure- we all are well aware of this statement. There are many ways in which you can prevent the formation of stones in your urinary tract. Let’s have a look at ‘em:
- Increase your water intake. Dehydration is a leading cause of kidney stones. Drink 10 glasses of water in a day.
- Hydrate your body as per your need.
- If you eat a protein-rich diet, change your eating habits. Switch to a balanced diet and limit your animal protein.
- Increase your intake of vegetables, low-fat dairy, and citrus fruits.
- If you have a family history of stones, be extra careful are you are more vulnerable to them as compared to other people.
Also Read: Must Read About Foods To Eat When Sick
Treatment of Renal Colic
Renal colic pain is usually experienced by people who have large stones lodged in their urinary tract. Small-sized stones pass through urine and don’t cause any discomfort.
However, if you have medium or large-sized kidney stones lodged in your tract, you need medical attention. Let’s have a look at the treatments available for renal colic pain:
- Usually, doctors prescribe medicines to reduce your renal colic pain. These medicines also help in alleviating your symptoms of vomiting and muscle spasms. Ibuprofen and opioid medicines are commonly prescribed.
- In case your stones don’t pass through urine, the doctor might have to perform surgery on you. Let’s have a look at the common procedures:
- Ureteroscopy: This procedure involves introducing a thin telescope up your urethra and bladder to each of your ureters to eliminate the stone. It helps examine your upper urinary passage.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy: This is a very common procedure that healthcare professionals use to remove stones. They begin by directing shock waves towards your kidneys.
This breaks down the stones into smaller pieces that you can easily pass through your urine.
The Final Word
You should immediately visit your doctor in case you experience intense pain coupled with fever and uncontrollable vomiting. Blood in your urine and reduced urine output are worrisome too.
Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of liquids to prevent the formation of stones that lead to renal colic pain. Most stones pass easily through urine. However, treatment might be required in some serious cases.
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