Renal Colic: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention
If kidney stones are small, they can pass through the urinary tract without causing you significant discomfort. But they can grow big enough to get stuck and require medical procedures to be removed. They also cause what many people describe as "the worst kind of pain in their lives": renal colic.
What is renal colic and what causes it?
Renal colic is a type of pain caused by a blockage somewhere in your urinary tract, which consists of kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Blockages are most commonly caused by kidney stones. Ureter spasms, blood clots, and dead tissue may also lead to a blockage.
It’s estimated that 12% of men and 6% of women will develop urinary stones at some point in their lives. The number of people who are at risk of developing renal colic is growing because of dietary changes and other lifestyle factors.
What are the symptoms of renal colic?
Symptoms of renal colic usually include the following:
- severe pain in the lower back, lower abdomen, and groin;
- painful urination;
- change of urine color to pink, red, or brown, which indicates the presence of blood;
- intense and frequent urge to urinate;
- decreased urination;
- fever and chills (if there’s an infection);
- nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms usually come, go, and change in the degree of severity.
How is renal colic treated?
The treatment of renal colic caused by kidney stones may involve the following:
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). In this procedure, sound waves are used to break large stones into tiny pieces, which are small enough to pass through your urinary tract and leave your body.
- Ureteroscopy. During this procedure, a doctor uses a thin viewing instrument called ureteroscope to remove the stone.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy. This procedure is usually performed using general anesthesia. A surgeon makes a small incision in you back and takes the stone out.
- Medicines. Drugs used to relieve symptoms include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antispasmodics. Opioids may be prescribed in extreme cases, if nothing else works to relieve the pain.
Are there ways to prevent renal colic?
They don’t give you 100% guarantee that you won’t develop kidney stones, but these tips can at least help you reduce the risk of getting them:
- drink plenty of water, at the same time limit your consumption of tea and coffee;
- eat less salt;
- you may want to limit animal sources of protein in your diet, such as red meat, fish, and eggs;
- limit oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach, rhubarb, and nuts;
- limit activity in hot temperatures, but if it’s impossible, at least make sure you stay hydrated.
In conclusion, renal colic caused by kidney stones is extremely painful, but fortunately, it can be treated. There are also ways to reduce your chances of developing kidney stones again.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.