Kidney stones: Are teenagers more vulnerable?

Kidney stones: Are teenagers more vulnerable?

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With the consistent change in the environment, children are at a higher risk of developing various health problems. Not many people are aware that people of all age and gender can suffer from kidney stones, including children. Earlier, it was believed that kidney stones mostly occur in the middle-aged population but in the past few decades, this condition is becoming common among young women and teenagers.

Kidney stones are developed when minerals like calcium, oxalate, phosphorus, and other elements in the urine combine and harden into a stone. These can be tiny stones that can come out with urine with adequate hydration. However, in some cases, they can also grow into large stones that require urgent medical help. Kidney stones also increase the risk of bowel disorders and urinary tract infections. It can occur due to inadequate nutrition, lack of fluid intake, and geographical location which is very hot and causes dehydration. The causes of increasing cases of kidney stones among teenagers include:

  1. Genetics: It is one of the high-risk factors for kidney stones among teenagers. A family history of the disease and children with a history of kidney stones are more likely to develop it again.
  2. Stagnant periods: Children who do not move around for a long time, such as after an accident or surgery have more chances of developing kidney stones than other kids. This is because during stagnation the bones may release excess calcium into the blood prompting the formation of kidney stones.
  3. Dehydration: Lack of fluid consumption is one of the leading causes of kidney stone development. Low fluid leads to less frequent urination causing concentrated urine and its components leading to kidney stones.
  4. High-salt intake: Extra sodium intake leads to loss of more than average calcium in the urine which increases the chances of developing kidney stones. Teenagers are more likely to have a fast food-based diet that is processed and rich in salt.
  5. Obesity: Excess body weight is linked to insulin resistance which may increase the amount of calcium and other minerals in the urine. Sudden weight loss, such as with bariatric surgery also increases the risk of kidney stones as the urine frequency changes and higher levels of oxalates are found in the urine.

Although it is completely impossible to evade the risk of kidney stones, parents can review their child’s daily lifestyle and minimize the risk factors. Also, in case if the child is showing any symptoms of kidney stones, it is important to get it diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

Some early signs of stone formation in the kidney are sharp pains in the groin and abdomen region, blood in the urine, frequent urination, bad smell, and inability to urinate. The pain may come and go and make the child feel nauseous and shivery. Small stones are treated with hydration and medication. However, in case the child is suffering from larger stones, it is treated through a process called lithotripsy. In this procedure, the stone is broken down into smaller ones using sound waves and then made to pass through the urine. Also in worse cases, surgical intervention can also be used if the above-mentioned techniques do not work.

The author is a Consultant, Urology Manipal Hospitals, Patiala. Views are personal. 

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