There is something terrifying about kidney pain. That sharp, cramping pain, which is not quite like the usual lower backaches, is pain occurring due to some distress related to the kidneys. You might feel it on only one side. In rarer cases, you could experience it on both sides of the back — to the right or left of the spine — but inside the rib cage. You might be able to differentiate kidney pain from the commoner backache which assails many, especially those who are desk bound for the greater part of the day, when you find that no degree of change of posture eases the pain. Such pain might come in waves, sometimes radiating from the lower abdomen or back to the groin.
There are many reasons why you might suffer from kidney pain. Some are given below:
It could be due the formation of renal calculi, also called kidney stones in lay parlance, or a kidney infection. Kidney stones are hard formations or crystals caused by the buildup of salts and minerals like oxalates, calcium, and/or uric acid in the kidney. When kidney stones get dislodged, and pass into the bladder, that is when you are likelier to face difficulties in urinating; pass blood in the urine; experience nausea; suffer severe pain on the sides or groin too; and even begin vomiting. The pain in the flanks is usually caused by the swelling of the kidney’s capsule, or outer covering, when too many kidney stones form, or when one or two stones grow in size. Struvite stones form in response to UTI, while uric acid stones form in kidneys of people who are dehydrated.
Kidney pain might occur when there is some urinary tract infection (UTI) affecting any or all components of the urinary tract — ureter, urethra, bladder, or kidneys — which refuses to go away. When UTI is recurring, or left untreated for a long time, there is always the danger of developing pyelonephritis, that is, chronic kidney infection. In extreme cases, it might indicate the onset of cancer of the kidneys. If you have been in a car accident, or other similar circumstances where you might have been thrown from your seat; then mechanical injury to your kidney/s might have occurred, causing pain.
If you have not been drinking sufficient water for quite a while, but have been on antibiotics; live in a hot, humid place which causes copious sweating; or have been on diuretics without sufficient intake of liquids; you might suffer kidney pain arising out of dehydration. You should keep in mind that dehydration per se will not cause kidney pain. It is the build up of wastes in the kidneys due to dehydration which causes pain — your body’s way of letting you know that something needs attention.
Due to the inconveniences imposed on us by modern life when we are outdoors most of the day, but may not have access to hygienic washrooms, people, especially women, try to withhold urine for long hours. This ensures that they might not realize when their urinary output becomes scant, cloudy, or even smelly. Infection might set in because an individual had to use a less than hygienic washroom.
Whether you are alone at home, or have family with you, you should recognize that kidney pain is a health emergency. However, since people are cagey about visiting a hospital, or even a doctor’s chamber these days; it is best to be prepared before kidney pain strikes you or a loved one. If any of you have been infected with UTI, make a practice of increasing your fluid intake. Keep an eye on how much water you drink daily, but do not drink too much tea or coffee, which have a diuretic effect on the body, and could leave you dehydrated. Some doctors recommend drinking eight ounces (roughly 2.36 ml.) of water eight times a day. It can translate into drinking two liters of water daily.
In summer, drinking freshly squeezed fruit juice, lassi, various kinds of sherbets are a good way to increase liquid intake. In winter, when one does not feel like drinking water, hot soups are a good substitute. You could soak kulthi bean or horse gram in boiling hot water overnight, and drink the water first thing in the morning to dilute kidney stones or crystals, and eliminate them from your body gradually.
Drinking fresh juices of basil, cranberry, pomegranate, lemons, celery, and parsley — singly rather than together — are an excellent way to fight UTI, and flush out kidney or bladder stones. It is always preferable that you consult your urologist before beginning on a regime of antioxidant rich celery, basil, and pomegranate juices. However, take advantage of the antibacterial properties of green tea to fight infections. Add some probiotic like curds to your daily diet to aid your kidneys in processing wastes and fight bacteria. Eat apples and grapes to add Vitamin C.
The findings of a study conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts was shared at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston in 2010. The researchers found beneficial substances in cranberry juice which prevented e. coli from adhering to other bacteria. Therefore, it may not cure UTI, but would help keep it at bay. On the other hand, adding parsley to a smoothie or to a salad would be a delicious way to get a nutrient rich diuretic. Urinating often, in sufficiently large quantities, would help in eliminating bacteria from your system. Increasing calcium and magnesium intake by eating bananas is one option.
Since kidney pain could leave you immobilized, using a hot water bottle, or a heating pad on the painful area might help relieve the pain. Alternatively, you might dissolve Epsom salts in warm water and soak in the bath for a while to ease the discomfort. It is certainly a better option than reaching for an over the counter painkiller. However, some commonly suggested pain relief methods such as drinking wine, beer, apple cider vinegar, or having baking soda might easily prove counterproductive.
Reduce your alcohol intake. Ideally, avoid it altogether. You need to be wary about how much animal protein you eat as well as oxalate rich foods like spinach, beans, berries, most nuts, rhubarb, wheat bran, colas, and green peppers. Go easy on milk, even plant based milk like soy and almond milk, and dairy products.
Warning: You should consult a doctor if you experience kidney pains often. Pregnant women should see their doctor immediately if they experience kidney pain.