Kidney Stones: Childbirth for Men
How do I know if I have a kidney stone? What happens if I do? Help?!
Fortunately for us men, childbirth is a hurdle that none of us will have to jump over. Unfortunately, there is still something we get that is very similar to childbirth due to the excruciating pain and the need to push an object out of a tiny hole. What I’m talking about of course, are Kidney Stones.
Researchers at ULCA have determined that an excess of 10% of American men can expect to experience the terrible experience of passing kidney stones during their lifetimes. And this is where it gets worse. If you’ve already passed a stone at some point in your life, the chances of getting another in the next 4 years skyrocket 50%.
What Are Kidney Stones?
So, what in the World Are Kidney Stones?
Your urine contains various minerals. When those minerals congregate in very high concentrations, they bond together to form “stones” in your kidneys, hence kidney stones. The pain doesn’t begin here, as the stones can lay dormant in your kidneys for a long time (months to years) without any sort of discomfort being felt.
That all changes when the stones get on the move. You will feel excruciating pain as they leave your kidneys and venture out into the ureter. What’s the ureter? It’s a narrow tube that transport your urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Remember how I said you have to push objects through a tiny hole?
To put it into perspective, that tube is much narrower than the space those stones had in your kidney. According to urologist Mantu Gupta, M.D. (Director, Kidney Stone Center at the Mt. Sinai Health System), that narrow passageway can lead to the stones getting stuck in there as they travel. That is where the terrible pain comes from.
Because of this, the lining of ureter is inflamed and irritated and you will feel a lot of discomfort. You may feel pain below your rib cage if one of the stones prevents one of the kidneys from being able to release urine.
And as if it can’t get any worse, the kidney stones may also make you feel something that’s referred to as referred pain. What’s that you ask? Dr. Gupta says that they are pains that you feel in other areas, such as the testicles or the head of your penis. But why? The stones aren’t even lodged there! It’s brutal.
Stop the Pain!
If you start experiencing the above mentioned symptoms, go to the hospital ASAP. When there, you’ll get either an ultrasound or a CT scan. Your options depend on what your stones look like, and both options suck.
If the stones are huge and cause you a lot of pain, you’ll need a special treatment. Your doctor may choose to use one of the following treatments: using sound waves to break down the stones, passing a scope through your urethra to manually take out the stone, or surgery. The surgery involves the doctor making a tiny incision in your back and removing the stones through there. None of those sound fun, do they?
If the stones are a bit smaller (less than 6 mm), Dr. Gupta gives you a 50% chance that the stone will pass on its own. When it’s time to come out, believe me you’ll know, because you’ll feel a sharp pain on your back below your rib cage.
Dr. Gupta says that when you’ve entered this stage, you should drink plenty of water. The good doctor explains that the extra water assists your kidneys in getting rid of the stone. Also, to alleviate some of the pain, Dr. Gupta says to get in a hot shower, as the hot steamy water running down your back will relieve some of the pain and spasms near your kidneys.
On top of taking the hot shower, you might be prescribed some pain meds so that you’ll be able to deal with the excruciating pain. You could also take alpha-blockers, which are muscle relaxers, to alleviate the pain in your ureter as the stone passes. Don’t get me wrong, it will still hurt like a b*tch, but not as bad as it would if you didn’t take the alpha-blocker.
And finally, it’s the main event. The kidney stone will pass as you urinate, which will cause pain all over that region. You will most likely feel very excruciating pain in your bladder and groin, as well as a burning sensation in the head of your penis. If you see blood, don’t worry, that’s due to the stone scratching the inner lining of your ureter or urethra while being passed.
And finally, it’s over. Dr. Gupta says you’ll feel a sweet relieving sensation as the stone is expelled from your body. Make sure not to flush because you still have to go fishing in your urine.
Yes, it’s nasty, but it’s recommended that you retrieve the expelled stones from your toilet. Why? So that you can give them to your doctor so they can inspect it. Then they can tell you how to prevent getting them again. Since kidney stones develop from different kinds of minerals, the prevention strategies vary. This is highly useful because believe me, you will not want to go through this again.
You won’t need a microscope to see these stones. You’ll see small, hard, brownish yellow pebbles. Those are the infamous kidney stones.
How You Can Avoid Going Through This Torture
Look, nobody wants to endure this hell. Here are some helpful pointers that should diminish the risk of developing kidney stones:
1. Consume roughly a total of 60 to 80 ounces of fluids per day. This one pretty much goes without saying, since you most likely already do this, which is great. If you don’t, here’s why you should: Dr. Gupta explains that dehydration allows the minerals that cause kidney stones to congregate and form craters in your kidneys. The color of your urine will indicate how well you’re following this. If it’s pale and yellow on a consistent basis, you’re good.
2. Stay away from carbonated beverages like Coca-Cola. A study conducted by Harvard University found that those that drink regular servings of carbonated beverages like Coca-Cola on a regular basis have a 23% higher risk of getting kidney stones than those who don’t. The culprit may be the high fructose concentration in those carbonated beverages. That content directly affects the amount of calcium, uric acid, and oxalate that is released through the urine, which raises the chance of stones forming.
It has been found that due to it containing antioxidants called chlorogenic acids, coffee is actually effective in preventing kidney stones from forming. Orange juice can also do this due to its antioxidant component called citric acid.