How To Know If You Are Having A Heart Attack

How can you know if you are having a heart attack? What are the normal symptoms? And what factors can change your symptoms or mask your symptoms?

How To Know If You Are Having A Stroke

Are you at risk for stroke? Do you know what the symptoms of stroke are? Do you know how to care for someone experiencing stroke?

How To Know If You Have Appendicitis

Find out what the appendix is, what it does, and what risks a ruptured appendix can pose in the abdomen. Also learn how other abdominal pains differ from pain in appendicitis, even if it is sharp lower abdominal pain.

Do You Need Gallbladder Removal?

Do you have Right Upper Abdominal pain or Sharp Abdominal Pain, especially after eating greasy food? You may have gallstones or another Gallbladder problem. Find out if you need to have your Gallbladder removed.

How To Know If You Have A Kidney Stone

Are you asking yourself, "How do I know if I have a Kidney Stone?" Are you or a family member at risk of having kidney stones? Do you know all the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Great Ways To Lose Weight With Iphone Apps

With our current civilization's struggle to shed pounds has come many innovations and changes in how we try to conquer that struggle. Today, people diet differently, exercise differently, and live differently. It only makes sense that how we lose weight, track our weight, and track our exercise programs should change to fit our crazy lives.

In the 21st century, smartphones, tablets and social networks have truly changed the way we see our world and how we interact with that world. It is only fitting that we utilize these new devices to help us stay or become fit and healthy. Learn how simple apps that you can get on your phone or tablet can help you make fitness fun, easier, and easy to track.

Probably the best reason to have a weight loss app or a weight loss tracking app on your cell phone is that it is a constant reminder of your goal and how far you have to go to get there. With a consistent encouragement to eat right and exercise most people are more likely to go farther on their diet and weight loss program.

Smartphone Simple Weight Loss Trackers

These apps primarily focus on tracking your weight loss progress. Some will throw in an extra feature or two such as telling you how many calories to eat or giving you some diet ideas, but the overall goal is the tracking of your success.
  • TargetWeight - This app, by Tactio, is a great tracking app to show your progress in both weight loss and BMI progression. TargetWeight will calculate your current, goal, and "normal" BMI for your height. Tactio has included graphs showing your progress along with even more features should you decide to purchase the PRO version. This app also will tell you how many days are left until your goal date. On the actual app's widget on your phone's home screen it will show a number denoting how many pounds you have left to reach your goal.
  • iGoalInformer - iGoalInformer is a very basic, free app to track your weight loss effort. In this app you will input your current weight, sex, birth date, and height along with your "activity" level. This helps the app calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Once you enter your goal weight and date, the app then calculates how many calories you need to eat to reach your goal by that date and how many calories you need to maintain your goal weight. You have to re-enter your current weight and the current date to make the app recalculate, but it is always glad to tell you if your goal is "possible" or unattainable.
Iphone Exercise Apps For Weight Loss

Many people find it easier to lose weight along with a well planned exercise routine. Few of those people actually are able to stick to that routine. These apps not only will give you great exercise ideas, targeting specific areas of your body, they will also help you plan them out and actually put them on a calendar.
  • JEFIT - This app pretty much does it all. You can use it for fitness, weight loss, or body building. The app allows you to set up your exercise routines, put them on the calendar, choose exercises for your routines, input reps, weights, and it will track every bit of progress along the way. The app will also track and chart your weight loss, and size gain or loss in specific areas of your body, another great aspect for both weight loss and body building. Finally, this app also allows you to create a free online profile that can sync with your phone app. On their online site you can download many workout routines, connect with like-minded fitness or weight loss seekers, and even upload or look at progress photos.
  • Jillian Michaels Slim Down- How else should anyone loose weight and reach their goal other than having Jillian Michaels yelling at you and working you to exhaustion? This app will give you some of Michaels' fat burning exercises and some great meal plans. If you decide to upgrade and purchase the Plus upgrade you can get a personalized Jillian Michaels fitness plan based on your body and your goals. This will give you a custom meal plan, 150 exercises with video instruction, and over 500 meals to boost your weight loss.
Iphone Nutrition and Diet Apps

Few weight loss programs will work, and none will work well, without a properly adjusted diet. Many people try to work out and exercise to lose weight or get fit, and simply eat whatever they want, whenever they want (and both are very important.) If you could use some help tracking your caloric intake, finding some nutritious and filling recipes, or just finding out how many calories a meal has, these apps are perfect for you!
  • intelli-Diet- This diet and weight tracking app will taylor a diet plan for you and your specific weight loss goals. After inputting your goals and current stats, you will let it know what food you currently have and it will give you recipes and a diet plan. The app will also generate a grocery list for you and track your weight loss.
  • WeightWatchers- Everyone knows about WeightWatchers, but this app is for members and nonmembers. As a nonmember, this app will give you a new recipe every day, will save some of the recipes, and will generate grocery lists from the recipes. As a member, you can also track points, calculate points, and search through WeightWatchers library of over 31,000 food options, recipes, and meals.
Other IPhone And Android Weight Loss Apps
  • MyFitnessPal- This free app is a great calorie counter that will track the number of calories you intake versus the amount of calories you burn by exercise and some everyday activities. The app also will track weight, waist, hips, and neck measurements. With MyFitnessPal's huge library of storebought and restaurant foods, the items you input for calories can also be broken down by nutritional details, such as fat, sugars, protein, etc.
  • Tracknburn Calorie - This app by Healthy U Technologies is a pay app but it is well worth it. It costs $3.99 on the iPhone. Tracknburn does exactly what the name says: it tracks the calories you intake and helps you burn them off. Simple enough, right? This all-inclusive app also tracks your weight loss, your exercise progression, and even your water intake. You can input calories manually or by searching by restaurant or food type for easy use. Use Tracknburn to help you to know exactly what goes in and what gets used to maximize your weight loss plan!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Symptoms And Treatment Of Pulmonary Embolism

Many people who experience chest pain and shortness of breath assume they may be having a heart attack. Although that may be the case, there are other causes, just as deadly, that can cause the same symptoms. As most people know, heart attack, or an acute myocardial infarction, is caused by a thrombus, usually a piece of an atherosclerotic clot, becoming lodged in one of the coronary arteries and stopping the flow of oxygen rich blood. Pulmonary embolism is very similar to a heart attack, but takes place in the arteries of the lungs.

These embolisms, generally from blood clots in the legs, can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Below you will find an in-depth description of the signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism, along with risk factors for these blood clot embolisms.

Risk Factors For Pulmonary Embolism

As with most medical conditions, there are certain factors that can place people at higher risk of experiencing Pulmonary Emboli. The foremost cause of blood clots in the lungs is the existence of Deep Vein Thrombosis. A high percentage (10-15%) of all patients with DVT will experience a clot traveling to a lung. This is due to a thrombus, or small clot, breaking loose from the DVT and traveling through the heart and out to the lungs.

Other risk factors include use of contraceptive pills by smokers, cancer, and genetic or acquired thrombophilias (or blood clotting disorders). Lastly, recent surgery is a risk factor, especially surgeries involving long bones. In some cases bone fragments or fatty cells can enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs. In these cases, fast emergency action is needed due to the inability of conventional means to dissolve these emboli.

Although Atrial Fibrilation, a condition in which the top chambers of the heart do not contract properly, is often considered a high risk for clots resulting in stroke or CVA, its is not generally considered a high risk factor for lung clots (or Pulmonary Embolism.)
Signs And Symptoms Of Pulmonary Embolism
The initial sign or symptom of pulmonary embolism is trouble breathing. This can range from having trouble moving air, to just feeling like you cannot catch your breath. Trouble breathing then leads to fast breathing or Tachypnea.

Along with the breathing difficulty, patients will also experience chest pain. This pain can come in the form of a sharp chest wall pain or a diffuse pain across the chest, but it usually worsens while breathing. Depending on how large the clot is, pulmonic blood pressure can affect the right ventricle of the heart, causing more chest pain and possibly distention of the jugular veins.

Overall, a person experiencing PE may also experience weakness, tireness, diaphoresis (extreme sweating), paleness, or even cyanosis (a blue tint to the skin denoting a lack of oxygen).

Treatment For A Blood Clot To The Lungs

The treatment of Pulmonary Embolism should be broken down in to two areas, prehospital care and emergency room or hospital care. Emergency prehospital care should be initiated in any case of Pulmonary Embolism by calling 911. The care given by prehospital providers will be tiered dependant on the vital signs of the patient. This care will often include moderate to high flow oxygen, and could possibly include CPAP if the patient is experiencing flash pulmonary edema due to pulmonic hypertension.

Due to the chest pain, the patient may be given Aspirin if Heart Attack is of concern, but as most patients with lung clots have specific history pointing to the cause, most of the treatment will focus on Oxygenation in the prehospital setting.

In the emergency room, the focus of treatment, along with Oxygenation, will be removal of the clot. The initial treatment for most clots in the lung is through anticoagulants, most often a drug called Heparin. This drug will begin to break down most clots by breaking them up into smaller pieces and is often followed by drugs like Warfarin (Coumadin).

If the clot has caused a cardiac issue due to causing a back up of blood in the pulmonary arteries and the right side of the heart, the patient my be given a thrombolytic. These drugs, often used in the case of stroke, are used to totally dissolve the clot, but as they can cause a risk of aneurysm or bleeding elsewhere, they are generally not used unless medically necessary.

As a last resort, often if the embolism is not a clot that can be dissolved (made up of fatty cells or bone fragment) or is so large that death is probable, the clot may be surgically removed. As this is a dangerous procedure, it is seldom used.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Does Your Child Need Their Tonsils Or Adenoids Removed?

Years ago, rarely did a child grow up and keep their tonsils. Most adults today can tell you about how they had their tonsils removed and got to eat ice cream, pudding, etc. Although tonsil and adenoid removal does not happen quite as often as it did in the 1970's and 1980's, it is still a fairly common procedure that occurs for specific reasons.

I recall having a doctor tell my own mother on multiple occasions in the 1980's that "if his(my) tonsils get any bigger I am going to take them out!" The doctor simply wanted to take my tonsils out because they were big, which they were, and are still.

Sure, many doctors had specific reasons to take tonsils and adenoids out in those days, but many did so simply because they thought the glands were problematic and more trouble than they were worth. They did not know what the glands' purposes were, for the most part, and preferred to just take them out in most cases.

What Do The Tonsils And Adenoids Do?

The Palatine Tonsils, commonly just called tonsils, are the two glands seen on either side of the inside of a person's throat, just behind the tongue. Although many biologists and doctors hold the tonsils as a first line immune defense, how, exactly, they contribute to the immune system is unknown. Although much is unknown about them, though, doctors are less likely to take them out as they were in years past.

The Adenoids, or pharyngeal tonsils, are glands located just behind and above the soft palate and uvula, where the nasal passages open into the back of the mouth. Adenoids are also considered a lymph or immune gland and are thought to aid in the immune response, generally in children, as they usually shrink as a person exits early childhood.

Why Should Tonsils And Adenoids Be Removed?

The primary reasons for both Tonsillectomy and Adenoid Removal all have to do with inflammation and infection. The tonsils are likely to be removed if they are constantly getting infected which can lead to chronic throat pain and other upper respiratory illnesses. Also, if the tonsils are deemed to be causing breathing difficulties, such as sleep apnea, and basically occluding the airway.

The Adenoids are usually not removed unless infection or enlargement affect the nasal airway or increase production of secretions in the nasal cavity. The adenoids can also affect drainage of secretions and fluid from the inner ear, which is why they are often removed when a child has problems with recurring ear infections due to inner ear drainage.

Common Tonsil And Adenoid Removal Procedures

The removal of either or both the tonsils and adenoids involves the child or person being anesthetized. As any procedure involving anesthetics is serious and has serious risks, the procedures are done with much precaution. Any candidate for the procedures, therefore, must be in good health, without extenuating medical conditions, and must have predetermined reasons for the procedure.

The Tonsillectomy procedure involves removing the two glands with either a scalpel or via electrocautery (cauterizing device). In some surgery centers laser cutting devices can be used. The tonsils are then removed through the mouth and bleeding is generally ceased via electrocautery, although sutures can be used. After surgery, the patient is brought out of anesthesia, any airway securing devices removed, and the patient is monitored until they are ready to be taken home. Most commonly, the patient will have a sore throat for a couple days but recovery is fairly quick.

Adenoid removal is fairly similar to the Tonsillectomy, except that the surgeon or ENT specialist often has to do much of the procedure while looking through a mirror due to the location of the glands. As these glands are generally removed due to infection, and due to the smell of the electrocautery, the patient will experience very bad breath for 2-3 days after the procedure. Sore throat will also follow this procedure, but a majority of the discomfort comes from the placement and removal of the airway secure device used (generally either an endotracheal tube or a laryngeal mask airway).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Should You Be Taking A Low-Dose Aspirin Regimen?

There is currently a great deal of excitement in medical circles about new possibilities of gaining the upper hand against cancer. Apparently, a group of British medical researchers, after studying over 25,000 patients with a history of taking low dose aspirin, have found a possible correlation between long term treatment of low dose aspirin and lower death rates from multiple types of cancer. Could it be that aspirin prevents cancer?

This is definitely promising, and though many questions arise, the fact that the study included such a broad field and a was over a long time span could be the aspect that underscores the research findings. This research was done on participants who had been on an aspirin regimen for at least 4 years.

Although the research was good and the news is great, you still should consult your physician before begining an aspirin regemin for various different reasons.

Why Shouldn't You Take a Low Dose Aspirin Every Day?

The rush by many to simply say, "I'm taking low dose aspirin starting today!" should be tempered by some calm advice. As always, never begin taking any medication regimen without the advise of your personal physician! Due to the possibility that you may have issues with anemia, GI bleeds, allergies, or current prescriptions for blood thinners, medical advice is always needed to begin taking aspirin daily.

Another reason not to rush to the store and buy a large bottle of low dose aspirin is that more time is needed. As with any medical research, when a correlation is found, the exact cause of that correlation must be found and confirmed before broad scale change in medical direction could be even a possibility. Too often people hear of this study or that research and assume that it is conclusive. Just as it takes years to develop new medications, many trials and refocused studies will have to be done before doctors will be able to place people on aspirin solely to lessen the risk of cancer.

Should you decide to ask your primary care physician about beginning a low dose aspirin regimen, be sure to go over the list of medications you are already on and confirm that the aspirin will not bring complications with your current medical conditions. Also remember to take enteric coated, low dose aspirin, which will be more gentle on your stomach.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Managing Your Hypertensive Crisis

Millions of Americans and even more millions of people around the world struggle with high blood pressure every day. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can lead to a multitude of other health problems including Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Peripheral Artery Disease, Stroke, Pulmonary Embolism, Congestive Heart Failure, Renal (Kidney) Failure, and more. However, Hypertension can sometimes become an acute emergency itself.

Hypertensive Crisis can cause intense pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, and can even cause stroke, dangerous heart dysrhythmias, and other immediate conditions that can cause death. Hypertensive Crisis can be caused by several different mechanisms and has several different ways to be treated. Below you will find some of the causes, the preferred routes of treatment, and what you can do to avoid Hypertensive Crisis if you struggle with Hypertension.

Causes Of Hypertensive Crisis

Although there are many different contributing factors to Hypertension or High Blood Pressure, the causes of true Hypertensive Crisis are far fewer. True Hypertensive Crisis occurs when a person's blood pressure gets so high that organs can actually be damaged. These pressures are generally higher than 180/120 and can even get as high as 300 systolic and higher.

Because these high pressures are so high, they generally require that the person already has a condition of high blood pressure that they deal with. In most cases, a person approaches such high pressures due to lack of taking their hypertension prescriptions. In other cases, a person may need a higher dosage of their prescription or even a prescription that works in a different way. Finally, a person who lives with high blood pressure, treated or not, that has a large stress incident in their life could experience a spike in pressure. This spike, along with anxiety due to the stress, could cause a dangerously high blood pressure, such as is seen in Hypertensive Crisis.

Avoiding Hypertensive Crisis

There are several things a person can do to help avoid such a dangerous situation as Hypertensive Crisis. First, if you are on medication to treat High Blood Pressure, be sure to take your medication as prescribed. Set reminders on your cell phone, put a note on your breakfast cereal box, do whatever it takes to remember to take your medication when it is supposed to be taken.
Second, if you have trouble affording the medication you are currently prescribed, try asking your primary care physician for a similar medication for which a generic drug is available. If that is not possible, try contacting the company that manufactures the medication. In many cases these companies offer programs to assist low-income patients that are prescribed their drugs.

Third, if you begin experiencing signs of high blood pressure, headache, blurred vision, chest pain, palpitations or others, be sure to see your doctor. You may need to be changed to a different prescription that lowers blood pressure in a different way or you may need to have a higher dose of your current medication.

Care For Hypertensive Crisis

Initial care for Hypertensive Crisis involves both reduction of the patients blood pressure and pain management. The patient's blood pressure must be reduced to the point that end-organ damage is avoided, yet current studies show that the MAP (mean arterial pressure: a mid point between the pressure during a heart's contraction and the pressure between contractions) must not be lowered too quickly or a different type of organ damage can occur.

Pain Management is important due to the fact that the pain from the spike in blood pressure can compound the problem. Often when people are experiencing sharp, harsh pain, their heart rate goes up quickly, driving their blood pressure up. In the situation of hypertensive crisis, this reaction can create a snowball effect.

Perhaps the most important treatment of Hypertensive Crisis is what comes after the blood pressure spike has resolved and the pain is gone. After the initial issue, a doctor will want to know why the pressure spike occured and will tailor a treatment plan to best deal with the patient's health issues. If the patient needs new medication, a stronger prescription, or needs to be more diligent in taking their medications, a well planned, long term treatment of Hypertension is what will help patients lessen current and future damage from hypertension and hypertensive crisis.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pinpointing Your Abdominal Pain: What Is The Cause?

Few pain sensors in the human body are as intense as those in the human abdomen. For that reason, when certain medical emergencies (and non-emergencies) occur inside a person's abdominal cavity, pain can often be unbearable. Many people want to write certain pains off as "gas" pains, but there are several severe emergencies that can exhibit severe abdominal pain.

The human abdomen is divited into 4 quadrants: the Right Upper Quadrant, the Right Lower Quadrant, the Left Lower Quadrant, and the Left Upper Quadrant. These quadrants are separated by an imaginary horizontal line at the level of the bellybutton and a vertical line that intersects the other line at the bellybutton.
Knowing what organs lie in each of these quadrants along with their etiologies can help you know whether your or a loved one's abdominal pain is an emergency or a "wait and see." Below you will find a breakdown of which organs are in which quardrants, along with descriptions of their symptoms, risk and more.

Lower Left Side Abdominal Pain

Although lower left abdominal pain is most often associated with large intestine pain, the cause can come from several other organs. The appendix can even cause Left Lower Abdomen pain in cases of Situs Inversus, a condition where a person's organs are on the opposite side from their normal position, although this occurs in less than 1 in 10,000 people. Causes of Left Lower Abdominal Pain can be:
  • Large Intestine (Colon) pain from a bleed, blockage or Diverticulitis
  • Small Intestine pain from a bleed or blockage
  • Pain associated with Female Reproductive Organs
  • Kidney Stone passing through the left ureter
  • Blood in the abdominal cavity
  • Blood clot in the Left Lower Abdominal area
Diverticulitis is a common cause of Left Lower Abdominal Pain that is usually closer to the center of the lower abdomen. Diverticulitis is usually caused by pouches in the colon or large intestine that get stretched (Diverticuli) and then catch undigested food (popcorn, sunflower seeds, peanuts) and become infected. This causes extremely sharp lower abdomen pain that will not subside.

Upper Left Side Abdominal Pain

Upper Left Side Abdomen Pain can be caused by a few different organs the the previous two. Some causes include:
  • Pancreatic pain
  • Splenic pain
  • Large Intestine Pain
  • Small Intestine Pain
  • Stomach Pain
  • Pain related to Female reproductive organs
The most common cause of Pancreatic pain, pain from the pancreas, is Pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can be an isolated case or can be a chronic problem. Due to the makeup of the organ, surgical repair can be difficult so chronic pain is usually handled with long term pain management medication.

Although splenic pain can be caused due to infections and other medical causes, the more common cause of sudden severe pain from the spleen is actually trauma. Closely associated with driver-side impact in a vehicle collision, spleen rupture is a very deadly condition. Although splenic pain can be felt in the Upper Left Abdomen, "referred pain", pain felt somewhere other than where it is being caused, often can be felt in the left shoulder, shoulder blade, or collar bone areas.

Stomach pain causing severe Left Upper Abdominal Pain can be caused by gas, hunger or cramping, but a serious concern would be an ulcer, whether bleeding or not. These are generally found by upper endoscopy which should be considered for anyone who experiences recurring upper abdominal pain.

Upper Right Abdominal Pain

Upper Right Abdominal Pain is generally linked to three organs, the Liver, the Gallbladder, and the Stomach. Although pain can come from blockages or bleeds in the small or large intestine, one of those three is usually the culprit.

The liver, a large organ that occupies the upper right abdomen but can also reach into the upper left abdomen and into the thorax behind your right lower ribs. Pain from the liver can be from injury but it can also be from infection to the liver, which is called Hepatitis. We all associate Hepatitis with a disease transmitted by sex, blood transfusions, or dirty needles, but it can be caused by any medical problem with the liver, including cirrhosis and other causes.

Gallbladder pain can be caused by stones and/or infection. The pain usually occurs when the bile duct that travels from the Gallbladder to the small intestine is blocked due to swelling or a stone. Pain can be more prevalent after eating a greasy meal, and is more common with slightly overweight females who are over forty years old.

Stomach pain in the right upper abdominal area is often due to stomach and/or duodenal ulcers (ulcers occurring in the first section of the small intestine).

Right Side Lower Abdominal Pain

One of the most commonly thought of pains in the abdomen is Right Side Lower Abdomen pain. Generally, this pain is associated with appendicitis or appendix rupture, but other organs can cause Right Lower Abdominal pain. Some of the possible causes of right lower abdomen pain are:
  • Appendicitis
  • Small or Large Intestine Bleed or Blockage
  • A passing Kidney stone in the Ureter or Bladder
  • Pain associated with female reproductive organs (Ovaries, Uterus, Cervix)
  • Blood in the abdominal cavity
  • Blood clot in the area
Although, as I said, Appendicitis is associated with pain in the Right Lower Quadrant, it generally begins in the umbilicus (belly button) area, due to how our abdominal sensory nerves develop while we are in the womb, then it moves over to an area between the belly button and the top front of the hip bone. One aspect of abdominal pain that is indicative of appendicitis or appendix rupture is pain when releasing pressure on the right lower abdomen.

Kidney stone pain in the ureter is usually associated with side (flank) and back pain. It can be accompanied by fever and even blood in your urine.

Diffuse Abdominal Pain

Diffuse abdominal pain, or pain that is spread all over the abdomen and not in one specific spot, can be just as painful and just as deadly as other types of abdominal pain. Peritonitis, inflammation and infection of the lining of the abdomen, can be caused by:
  • Blood in the abdominal cavity
  • lack of oxygen due to a blood clot
  • infection spreading from a specific organ to all of the abdominal organs
  • pain from one of the other causes that is felt all over the abdomen rather than in their normal spot
Bleeding from either injury or medical problems, such as aneurysm, can be very deadly due to the amount of blood that can be lost in the abdominal cavity and the size of the blood vessels that run through the abdomen. AAA, or abdominal aortic aneurysm, is the swelling and even ripping of the descending aorta. Symptoms can also include numbness or paralysis to one or both legs, weakness, profuse sweating, cold skin, and feeling of impending doom. If you have any of these symptoms call 911 immediately.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How To Know If You Have A Kidney Stone

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with Kidney Stones. Generally, these patients are seen in their local emergency room due to the extreme lower left abdominal pain in men and women caused by these calcifications, sometimes even by ambulance due to the debilitating nature of the pain. For the most part, people experiencing symptoms of kidney stones are generally sent home to wait for the stone to pass naturally, but occasionally they may require medical intervention, especially if the stone is too large to pass or if there is a substantial level of infection or other medical issues.

For many people, the thought of sitting in an ER waiting room, waiting to be seen by a doctor while in pain, is unthinkable, especially with the extreme level of sharp lower abdominal pain that kidney stones can cause. Are you asking yourself, "How do I know if I have a Kidney Stone?" Are you or a family member at risk of having kidney stones? Do you know all the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

Kidney stones can cause from a couple days of pain to a life-long health issue. Kidneys damaged from stones may heal quite quickly if the stones are small or pass easily or they may be damaged forever and possibly need to be replaced via transplant. Read further to learn more about kidney stones so that you will know if you have one and how to deal with it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Stones?

Kidney stone pain generally begins with a dull pain in the mid to lower back. The pain from the lower back will generally begin radiating to the affected flank/side. When the pain begins to move, the stone has entered the ureter that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. This is the sight of some of the worst pain associated with the kidney stone.

The reason for the pain in the ureter is that the kidney stone basically looks like a really small sand spur, and it digs into the wall of the ureter as it moves the urine downward to the bladder. Once the stone has damaged the ureter, the walls begin to spasm, causing much worse damage. Once the stone has reached this point, blood can sometimes be seen in the patients urine.

When the stone finally reaches the bladder, pain generally ceases for the female, with some exception to soreness associated with damage caused by the stone. For the male, however, pain will soon begin again when the stone enters the urethra that travels from the bladder down through the penis. This is generally not as painful for the female because her urethra is very short. During this part of the passage, urination can be painful, and spasming of the urethra can occur due to similar damage as in the ureter.

Although fever, nausea, and vomiting can accompany the pain from kidney stone, the pain is predominantly the main symptom. Other symptoms can include chills, burning sensation at urination, or urine that is cloudy or has a strong odor.

What Risks Do Kidney Stones Pose?

There are many different risks that kidney stones pose to an individual that reach far beyond the excruciating pain that accompanies them traveling out of the body. The most worrisome issue related to multiple kidney stones is that of kidney damage. If a person has untreated stones that are too large to leave the kidney, or multiple cases of kidney stones, they can do irreparable damage to the kidney itself. This can lead to the loss of kidney function of the particular kidney. If a person only has one kidney or has damage to both kidneys, they could have to go on dialysis and/or be placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Another issue that correlates to the loss of kidney function is that of electrolyte imbalance. The function of a persons kidneys helps regulate the level of certain electrolytes in the body, such as sodium and potassium. These substances have a large impact on the heart, brain, and other areas of the body, and imbalances can lead to various health issues such as heart arrhythmias, memory problems and more.

How To Care For Kidney Stones

The best initial care for a kidney stone is to seek a confirmed diagnosis at an ER or doctor's office. Depending on your health care plan, you may be able to go to a urologist without a referral. However, if you have never had a confirmed kidney stone, you will probably be sent to an emergency room to have a CT and x-rays to confirm that there are kidney stones, how many, and how big. They will also most likely check a urine sample for cloudiness, blood, and sign of infection.

After the kidney stone has been confirmed, you will either be sent home to pass the stone naturally, or, depending on size and quantity, you might be referred to a urologist. If referred to a urologist, you can expect any where from passing the stone naturally to certain non-surgical procedures to break up stones so that they are passable. That care can also include placement of a stint in the affected ureter or urethra or both to help dilate or hold it open to help passage and minimize damage.

If released to pass the stone without visiting a urologist, you will be encouraged to drink plenty of water to keep everything opened up and give plenty of "flow" to help push the stone out. You may also be given prescriptions such as Flowmax to help dilate or other prescriptions for pain management.

There are many home remedies on the Internet that claim to help break down the stone or push it out. Be sure to consult a physician before attempting to use any of these remedies. Your physician may not agree with you using them, but he can definitely tell you if any of them are dangerous or counterproductive.