Kidney stones can be very painful to bear with, especially when you are pregnant. While being pregnant does not increase your chances of getting kidney stones, it makes it complicated to diagnose it and administer the usual methods of treatment due to risks of harming the foetus. While most kidney stones may pass without the need for any treatment, some of them may cause intense pain. In such cases, medical treatment is recommended. Kidney stones in pregnancy third trimester may also induce labour, hence it is always ideal to seek medical help from a doctor in case you notice signs of kidney stones.
Signs And Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of kidney stone during pregnancy aren’t unlike the usual ones. However, there are no specific symptoms that indicate kidney stone and any pregnancy complications caused due to it. Some of the common symptoms of kidney stones during pregnancy include,
1. Pain: Intense pain is one the first and the most common signs of kidney stones. The area of the pain is based on the where the stone is located. If the stone is in your kidney, you will experience pain in the back, below the rib cage area. Once the stone moves down to the ureters, you will begin experiencing pain on the side of your body. As the stone moves further down the ureter, you may even feel pain near your genitals or even in the thigh. Apart from this, you may also have pain in your lower abdomen.
2. Pain during urination: If the stone has travelled down and is stuck at the lower end of the ureter, you are likely to have intense pain while urinating.
3. Blood in the urine: As the stones in the kidney move spontaneously, they may damage the tissues and the cells in the kidney. This may lead to blood in the urine.
Apart from these symptoms, you may also have vomiting, nausea, fever with chills (indicates infection), or may even feel some distension in the abdomen.
Indications When Surgical Intervention Is Advised
If natural and conservative remedies do not work, you may have to opt for surgical intervention to get rid of kidney stones under these circumstances.
- The stones that have obstructed the urinary tract have caused pyelonephritis or inflammation due to bacterial infection.
- If you have only one kidney
- Acute kidney failure
- Intense pain
- Risk of premature labour due to kidney pain
How To Get Rid Of Kidney Stones While Pregnant?
If you notice any symptoms of a kidney stone it is advisable to consult a urologist for treatment options. Here are some of the methods used to get rid of kidney stone in pregnancy. Treatment methods are also based on the nature of your kidney stones and the trimester that you are in.
1. Medical Treatment
Acetaminophens like Tylenol are prescribed to relieve pain caused due to kidney stones. However, in the event that medication fails to lower your pain or if there is any indication of preterm labour, you may need a surgical intervention.
2. Surgical Treatment
- Ureteroscopy – This procedure is used for diagnosis as well as for a quick resolution of the stones. A small tube called a ureteroscope is inserted into the kidney passing through the ureter, the urethra, and the urinary bladder. The process uses a laser to break the stones. This procedure is only ideal for stones smaller than 1 cm.
- Tube or stent placement – This procedure uses a hollow tube passed through the ureters to drain the urine and the stones. It is minimally invasive and does not use any anaesthesia.
- Shockwave therapy and open surgery are not used for pregnant women due to risks to the foetus.
3. Natural/Home Remedies
Conservative methods and natural remedies are the most preferred treatment of kidney stones. Some of these include,
- Intake of water: Drinking at least eight glasses of water every day can help dilute the minerals and organic salts in the urine. It also helps clear small stones from the kidney.
- Fruits: Consuming fruits like watermelon, blueberries, peaches, etc which have high water content is also beneficial.
- Avoid commercial juices: Packaged juices have a high content of minerals and organic salts which may make your condition worse.
- Lemon: Lemon is known to break medium-sized stones and also open up the ureters, helping the stones pass without much pain.
Some of the best ways to prevent kidney stones are,
- Drink a lot of water. A minimum of two litres or eight glasses per day.
- Lower your salt intake. Avoid junk foods as they contain a lot of monosodium chloride.
- Avoid excess calcium. Keep your calcium intake under 1000 to 1200 mg per day.
- Reduce your consumption of green leafy vegetables, chicken, fish, nuts, beetroot, chocolate, peanuts, beef, red meat, tea, and coffee.
Kidney stones are rather common during pregnancy and in most cases can be treated using conservative treatment methods like drinking a lot of water, trying natural remedies, etc. However, in case the pain is severe, you will need to opt for medical or surgical treatments to alleviate it. Always remember to reach out to a doctor immediately after you notice symptoms of kidney stones to get the appropriate treatment method and avoid complications.
Also read: Hydronephrosis In Pregnancy