Kidney stones are a painful condition that can affect anyone, but pregnant women may be at increased risk. This article discusses the symptoms and treatments of kidney stones during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not an easy time for any woman. For some women, it can be even more difficult due to the many physical changes within their bodies. One of these changes is the potential for kidney stones during pregnancy. This article will cover the basics of what you need to know about kidney stones during pregnancy, including risk factors and treatment options.
What Are Kidney Stones?
They are a hard mineral deposit that can form in the kidneys. They can cause pain and other symptoms when they move through the urinary tract.
What Causes Kidney Stones During Pregnancy?
There is no one specific cause of the condition during pregnancy, but some risk factors include:
- Decreased urinary output (fewer times per day that you go to the bathroom)
- Elevated calcium levels in the urine. This depends on how much calcium you are taking in your diet, as well as any supplements.
- A family history of kidney stones
- An existing history of kidney stones
- A type of kidney stone called a “struvite stone.” This can be caused by urinary tract or bladder infections. These types of infections are more common during pregnancy.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptom is severe pain for between one and twelve hours. The severity, location, frequency and duration of this pain will vary depending on where the stone is located and what type of stone you have. Additional symptoms may include: nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and bloating.
Will I Need to Have My Kidney Stones Treated During Pregnancy?
In some cases, pregnant women can pass a kidney stone without treatment. In others, specific treatments may be necessary. These could include:
- One or more injections into the back containing medication that goes directly to the area around the kidneys.
- Medication is taken by mouth for four to six weeks. This will depend on exactly which treatments your healthcare provider recommends for you. If or when you need treatment for a kidney or urinary tract infection during pregnancy should also be discussed with your doctor as this may alter the course of action.
- Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medication to help you manage the symptoms of a kidney stone. However, before starting this or any other treatment, you must consult your doctor and ask any questions about it.
How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones During Pregnancy?
Some ways to reduce the risk for kidney stones during pregnancy include:
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least eight glasses per day).
- Keep track of how much fluid you are taking in and compare this with your output (how many times per day you go to the bathroom). If necessary, decrease fluid intake until these numbers equal out.
- Eat a well-balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Limit sodium intake as much as possible; aim for less than 2,300 mg per day.
- Decrease the amount of calcium you take in through your diet and supplements; talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to have while pregnant.
- Limit animal protein intake if you have a history of kidney stones. This includes beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish.
Is It Possible to Pass a Kidney Stone During Delivery?
In some rare cases, women may pass a kidney stone while delivering their baby vaginally. If this happens, it is typically because the woman has a specific type of stone called a “struvite,” which tends to occur due to an infection in the urinary tract or bladder. Some other conditions that might increase the risk include:
- A UTI that has not been treated.
- An enlarged kidney or a condition called “hydronephrosis” is caused by a buildup of urine in the kidneys.
- If you have recently been administered antibiotics for an infection.
If your healthcare provider thinks it is possible, they may recommend some steps to help you manage the process more easily:
- Fluids given intravenously (through a needle into a vein).
- Drainage of excess fluid from the bladder through a tube inserted into the bladder via a catheter.
- Medication to help pass the stone and ease any pain during this process.
Kidney stones are a common medical condition, affecting a large number of the population. While they can occur at any time, they are more common during pregnancy. There are several different types of kidney stones, each with its own set of symptoms. If you experience pain in your back or side that lasts for more than a few hours, contact your doctor right away.
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