It has been estimated that every 1 in 10 people would develop a kidney stone in their life. And in fact, due to kidney stone complications, the number of people that go to an emergency room exceeds more than half a million, every year. That’s a big number!
Besides that, an interesting fact that has been circulating lately within media is that passing a kidney stone is as painful as the birth of a baby!
There was a study published in 2017 on the Journal of Pain Research which compared the perception of women versus men with regards to pain felt from renal colic- a type of pain caused by kidney stones, and childbirth. In this study, 59 patients from two hospital centres in the UK, out of which 36 were male and 23, female, were asked to rate the two types of pain on a scale of 1-10.
Results revealed that based on the completed questionnaires, 78.2%% of females considered renal colic to be the most severe pain they experienced while 88.9% of males were on the same boat, conveying that both sexes closely agreed on this.
Interestingly, among the females were 19 patients who had endured both, the pain of childbirth as well as renal colic. Yet, among them 12 females (63.3%) considered renal colic to be more painful than childbirth! However, the majority of male patients contrastingly thought of severity of renal colic pain to be either less (40%) or the same (23.4%) as childbirth. Food for thought, right?
Despite how painful renal colic is considered, there is a lack of management of severe colic pain. As stated by them, when someone goes into labour, anaesthetists provide assistance, whereas those with renal colic are usually left with inadequate analgesia to manage it although it is just as painful!
However, this study does have limitations- for example, it included only 19 women who experienced both kinds of pain. And, it comprised of women who had experiences of renal colic second to childbirth which could open up doors to recall bias as mentioned by the researchers. Despite these circumstances, the outcome is still insightful.
It would be interesting to see how results would play out, of a study with a bigger sample of women that had endured both pains and with renal colic being the pain endured at a time before childbirth!
There’s also an interesting personal story of a woman who conveys the severity of her kidney stone experience. Her final verdict on it was that given a choice between childbirth and a kidney stone, she’d rather pick labour!
The pain caused by kidney stones is said to be one of the most intense pains endured. The agonizing pain experienced by one while passing a kidney stone comes about due to the blockage of urine that causes backup of flow. This in turn causes pressure within your kidney. Another reason is that the ureters are unable to facilitate stretching out to pass the stone as they are inflexible. Besides those, there are cases in which the ureter puts pressure on the stone to squeeze it out of the ureter which causes intense pain too.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are crystal masses made of mineral and salt deposits that form inside the kidneys. These masses can vary in size- from being smaller than a grain of sand to the size of a chickpea. Sometimes they can even be the size of a golf ball! Even the tiniest ones are considered to cause a lot of pain.
Your kidney is in charge of removing waste and excess fluid from the body through urine. However, if there’s an excess amount of certain minerals, these can then pile up together and attract other substances to form little masses. Examples of minerals and other substances that can form such crystals are calcium, uric acid, struvite and cystine.
If you are not hydrated enough, your urine may contain a high concentration of these substances and hence, would be at risk of developing kidney stones. Other risk factors:
Good news is that if the kidney stones are quite small, they will cause no harm and will pass along with urine, likely without you even knowing. However, at other times they can cause symptoms like:
If you experience any such symptoms, it is important to see a doctor without further delay.
To alleviate symptoms, treatment may involve:
If stones are too large, they may require surgery for removal
Passing a kidney stone can sometimes completely painless at all but at other times, very excruciating-even as painful as childbirth! Dehydration is one of the main causes of this medical problem and it’s vital to make sure to avoid it. Please seek medical assistance if you wish to speak to a doctor about any related symptoms or complications. You can directly consult doctors and chat with them by downloading Doc2Us on your App Store or Play Store whenever you need!
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