Thousands of people every year are suffering unnecessarily from a symptom that, once diagnosed, can be easily treated, says Kent surgeon.
Kidney stones will occur in about 10% of people in the UK but in many cases will be wrongly diagnosed – causing sufferers to have to endure pain for much longer than necessary, according to Consultant Urologist Mr Tahir Bhat.
Now, as part of Urology Awareness Month – which runs throughout September – Mr Bhat, who practices at Spire Alexandra Hospital, is telling people what they should be looking out for as signs that they have kidney stones.
He explained: “Patients often see their GP multiple times, with symptoms varying from low level back pain to recurring urinary infections. Unfortunately many are given antibiotics for an infection when what they really need is a simple x-ray.
“Once stones are detected and identified they can, in many cases, be dealt with very quickly and painlessly. However, until the stones are spotted and dealt with, the patient’s painful symptoms will continue.”
About 10% of the population will suffer from kidney stones at some point in their lives with people aged between 20 and 50 years the most affected – although they are also more common in men.
They can range in size from very small grains to much larger stones which will typically cause intense pain. They occur as the kidneys filter unwanted materials from the blood. These bits of waste can form very small crystals which can gradually attach to other crystals and develop into stones over the years.
“Spotting and addressing symptoms early will help you get speedier and better treatment, and give you the best chance of living life to the full again,” explained Mr Bhat who said people should look out for:
• Pain in the back, stomach and groin
• Feverish symptoms or vomiting
• Blood in your urine
• Urinary tract infections
If the stones are only small then patients may be given painkillers and advised to drink lots of water and they should pass through the body naturally.
However, if surgical intervention is necessary then there are a number of procedures that can be carried out, including the use of ultrasound waves which break down the stones to allow them to be passed naturally.
“In the case of very large stones then open surgery may be required but this is very rarely the case,” said Mr Bhat. “The main thing is, whatever their size, to get them treated as soon as possible so you can get back to a pain-free lifestyle.”