Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kidney Stones

What are kidney stones?

First, we must answer the question of, what are kidneys? The kidneys are located in the abdomen, on either side of your spine, just above your waist. They filter your blood and excrete waste products and excess water as urine.

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidneys from substances in the urine. Stones can occur in any part of the urinary system, from the kidney to the bladder. They may be small or large. You may have just 1 stone or many.

Kidney stones are most common in middle-aged people. They are more common in men than in women. They tend to come back.

What are kidney stones made of?


There are several types of kidney stones, but most stones are calcium stones. They occur when there is too much calcium in the urine. If your kidneys don't work properly or if too much calcium is absorbed from your stomach and intestines, you may have excess calcium in your urine.

Some calcium stones are caused by too much of a chemical called oxalate that is found in many foods including spinach, rhubarb, leafy vegetables, coffee, chocolate, and tomatoes. Oxalate binds easily with calcium to form a stone.

Uric Acid:

A second type of kidney stone occurs because you have too much uric acid in your urine. Uric acid stones might result if you become dehydrated, for example, during strenuous exercise on a hot day or during an illness. Uric acid stones are common in people who have gout, a disease that causes high uric acid levels in the blood.


Struvite stones are a third type. They are also called infection stones because they form in urine that is infected with bacteria.


Finally, a rare type of kidney stone is a cystine stone. It occurs if you have the genetic disease called cystinuria. This disease results from a birth defect that causes the kidney to allow too much cystine into the urine. This type of stone formation is usually diagnosed during childhood.

Do I have kidney stones?

Some people have no symptoms until they pass gravel-like stones in their urine. Others never have any symptoms, and their stones are found during testing for other problems.  When kidney stones cause symptoms, they are generally:
·      renal colic (severe, crampy pain in your back or abdomen)

·      nausea

·      vomiting

·      Difficulty urinating

·      Urinary tract infection (fever, chills, sweats)

If you suspect that you may have kidney stones, seek proper evaluation and diagnosis from your healthcare provider.

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on the size, type, and location of the stone(s), whether one or more stones are blocking urine flow out of the kidney, and whether there are signs of infection.

Small stones can be passed at home.  Your healthcare provider may ask you to strain all urine until the stone is passed. When the stone is caught, it can be tested in the lab to see what kind of stone it is. Usually you have pain off and on for several hours up to 1 or 2 days.  However, a stone may take days or even weeks to pass. If a stone has not passed after a month or so, it may need to be surgically removed.

Larger stones that might block the flow of urine may require surgical intervention to remove the stone. As always, if you feel that you might have a kidney stone, see your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.


·      Follow your healthcare provider's recommended treatment for any health problems that may be causing kidney stones.

·      Drink plenty of water daily.

·      Follow any changes in your diet recommended by your provider after the stone has been tested in the lab.

·      Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help prevent more stones.

For more healthcare topics, visit Nurse’s Notes

Information from a source you can trust!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Strep Throat

Strep throat is an inflamed (painful, swollen, red) throat caused by infection with a kind of bacteria called group A Streptococci.  Strep throat is very contagious and passed from person to person.  If you think you may have strep throat, see your heath care provider for evaluation and diagnosis.  Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics.  With antibiotic treatment, your fever and sore throat pain are usually gone within 24 hours. If you are given antibiotics, take them as prescribed. After taking antibiotics for 24 hours, your strep throat will no longer be contagious. It is important to treat strep throat to prevent rare but serious complications that could affect your heart or kidneys.


·      Red throat
·      Painful swallowing
·      Fever
·      Chills
·      Headaches
·      Muscle aches and pains
·      Tired feeling
·      Swollen, tender lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
·      Loss of appetite

More of What You Should Know:

·      Get plenty of rest
·      Avoid smoking or cigarette smoke
·      Take your prescribed medicine until it is completely gone.
·      If you have a history of bleeding in your stomach, do not take ibuprofen or naproxen unless prescribed by your doctor.
·      Drink plenty of liquids (water, juices, avoid alcohol).
·      Do not force solid food if swallowing is too painful.
·      Gargle with salt water. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water to make your own salt water gargle
·      Suck hard candy or throat lozenges.
·      Rest your voice by avoiding excessive talking.
·      Use tissues to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, discard after use.
·      Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds before touching food, dishes, glasses, silverware, or cloth napkins.
·      You can use an alcohol based hand cleaners to clean your hands.
·      Use paper cups and paper towels in bathrooms instead of shared drinking cups and hand towels.
·      Do not share food and eating utensils with others.

Seek Emergency Medical Care If:

·      You have trouble breathing or swallowing.
·      Your feel like your throat or tongue are swelling.
·      You have a severe headache that does not get better with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
·      You start to have a very stiff neck and have pain when you bend your head forward.
You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C) orally that does not go down after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

For more health care topics, visit Nurse's Notes at Our Banana Moments

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hemorrhoids & Piles

Hemorrhoids, no one likes to talk about them and yet they are a common problem. Hemorrhoids, my grandmother referred to them as piles, are swollen veins and tissue in the lower rectum and anus. The anus is at the end of the rectum and is the opening through which bowel movements pass from your body. Hemorrhoids may be around the anus or inside the rectum. Hemorrhoids around the anus can be seen or felt easily around the anal opening. When the swollen veins are scratched or broken by straining, rubbing, or wiping, they sometimes bleed. Hemorrhoids in the rectum are often painless but they sometimes cause a lot of bleeding and may fall through the anus to the outside of the body.  Irritated hemorrhoids inside the rectum and outside the anus can be painful and cause bleeding.


Veins in the rectum and around the anus tend to swell under pressure. Hemorrhoids can result from too much pressure on these veins. You may put pressure on these veins by:

·      Straining to have a bowel movement
·      Constipation
·      Sitting for a long time on the toilet
·      Diarrhea
·      Obesity
·      Anal intercourse
·      Some liver diseases

*Pregnant women should try to avoid becoming constipated because they are more likely to have hemorrhoids during pregnancy. In the last trimester of pregnancy, the enlarged uterus may press on blood vessels and cause hemorrhoids. In addition, the strain of childbirth sometimes causes hemorrhoids after the birth.


·      itching
·      mild burning
·      bleeding around the anus
·      swelling and tenderness around the anus
·      pain with bowel movements
·      painful lumps around the anus


·      High-fiber diet
·      Stool Softners (psyllium, Metamucil or Citrucel, mineral oil, Dulcolax, Colace)
·      Fluids - Drink plenty of water.
·      Sitz baths and cold packs

If you think you may have hemorrhoids, see your health care provider.  Severe hemorrhoids may require procedures and surgeries. Always tell your healthcare provider when you have rectal bleeding. Serious illnesses, such as colon cancer, can also cause rectal bleeding.