Passing a kidney stone is extraordinarily painful, and kidney stones affect just over seven percent of the adults in the United States, although that percentage has been on the rise in recent decades. The American Urological Association reports that as many as twelve percent of us in the United States may be affected by kidney stones in our lifetimes. However, new research from the Mayo Clinic is suggesting that even after passing kidney stones, kidney-related health issues may persist, and chronic kidney disease may already be developing in patients with kidney stones.
This year, nephrologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have confirmed a link between first-time kidney stone formations and the development of chronic kidney disease, according to new findings published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. A Mayo Clinic team led by Dr. William Haley and Dr. Andrew Rule assessed a group of 384 kidney stone patients three months after their first kidney stone event to study the effect of kidney stones on kidney function and the development of chronic kidney disease.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE?
Compared to the control group, kidney stone formers had higher levels of the blood marker cystatin C and higher levels of albumin, a protein in the urine: both are linked to a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. “Even after adjusting for other risk factors, including urine chemistries, hypertension and obesity, we still found that those with a kidney stone episode had subsequent abnormal kidney function,” Dr. Rule explained in a press release. “This helps us better understand the long-term implications of kidney stones beyond recovery time.”
A progressive loss in kidney function characterizes chronic kidney disease and reduces the body’s ability to eliminate waste products. The symptoms of chronic kidney disease may include a general feeling of fatigue, a reduced appetite, nerve damage, high blood pressure, anemia, and weak bones. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that 26 million people in the United States suffer from kidney diseases.
HOW ARE KIDNEY STONES FORMED?
Older studies had already concluded that kidney stone sufferers have an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, but the new study establishes that the risk increases even with the initial kidney stone event. A kidney stone begins as a tiny mineral deposit and grows in size if the urinary tract cannot push it out of the body. Large kidney stone deposits may cause serious pain, nausea, and difficulty while urinating.
“This research shows that the implications of kidney stones may go beyond the discomfort they are so often associated with,” Dr. Rule added. “Prevention of kidney stones may be beneficial for a person’s overall kidney health.” Generally speaking, the formation of kidney stones is the result of a heightened concentration of chemicals in the urine that form crystals. This heightened concentration of chemicals may be triggered by any of the factors listed here:
• a family’s genetic predisposition to form kidney stones
• excessive calcium in the diet, sometimes caused by local water or soil conditions
• excessive uric acid, certain medications, Vitamin C, or Vitamin D
• residing where high temperatures routinely cause excessive sweating and loss of fluids
• a diet of fruits and vegetables high in oxalate
• long-term dehydration
• a urinary infection
• a sedentary lifestyle
The kidneys are always collecting the ingredients that form kidney stones – calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. In a healthy person, these minerals remain in suspension until they pass out of the body during urination. A high quantity these metabolic byproducts combined with insufficient fluid (that is, urine) makes a person likely to begin kidney stone formation.
HOW IS CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
A blood test for creatinine is typically used to diagnose chronic kidney disease. Creatinine is a chemical waste product produced by the metabolism in your muscle and by consuming meat. Healthy kidneys filter the creatinine, so higher levels are indicative of a reduced capability of the kidneys to eliminate waste. Chronic kidney disease may also be diagnosed if urinalysis shows that the kidneys are allowing excess protein or excess red blood cells into the urine.
Because so many struggle with kidney stones and kidney disease, it is inevitable that many patients will encounter medical malpractice and require the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. If your kidney disease originally was undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, proper treatment was probably delayed. A proper early diagnosis and the appropriate treatment make kidney disease manageable for many patients, but any medical malpractice – a misdiagnosis, the wrong prescription drug, or an unnecessary surgical procedure, for example – could cause your medical condition to deteriorate rapidly.
If you are a kidney disease sufferer who has experienced medical malpractice, discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who works exclusively with kidney disease patients. Misdiagnosis or improper treatment of kidney disease is medical malpractice, and per Jeffrey Nadrich, one of the top San Bernardino personal injury lawyers states, “malpractice victims are entitled by law to compensation for their additional medical care and related costs.”
In some cases, patients may also receive compensation for the pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice related to kidney disease. If a patient can prove that his or her health declined as the direct result of an incident of medical malpractice, that patient can be compensated. Statutes of limitation in each state restrict the amount of time that a patient has to file a malpractice claim, so taking action at once is imperative for any victim of medical malpractice.
When a physician discovers abnormally high levels of protein or blood in the urine, that physician should test you again after a short interval. A high level of protein in the blood is typically the first indication of chronic kidney disease. If a second test again shows high levels of protein or blood in the urine, you should be referred immediately to a kidney specialist – a nephrologist. A general practitioner should know when a patient should be sent to a nephrologist.
Nephrology is the field of medicine that deals with kidney diseases. Anyone with a kidney disease must receive the appropriate medical treatment, or the condition will progress until dialysis or a kidney transplant are the only remaining treatment options. The screening of individuals who are at risk – those with diabetes or high blood pressure, those over 60, those with a family history of kidney disease, and now those with a first kidney stone event – is imperative.