Crystals Found in Urine in Kids

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A doctor can confirm or rule out kidney stones.
A doctor can confirm or rule out kidney stones. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Urine crystals are a cause for concern. While urine crystals are benign on their own, they can be a catalyst for something much worse. When the crystals become numerous, they could combine into kidney stones. While the causes and symptoms are the same for both children and adults, it is important to know as much as possible in order to prevent urine crystals from recurring. If you suspect that your child has this health problem, it is imperative that you seek medical attention.

Diagnosis

Detecting crystals in the urine is the first step in addressing and treating the problem. The purpose of the test is to determine the urine's acid levels and detect any presence of substances like calcium, sodium and uric acid. This is called the 24-hour urine test, and it is done shortly after a child has already passed a kidney stone. Blood tests are also required. Once the results are analyzed, doctors will know the cause of the crystals and how to deal with them.

Symptoms and Complications

Urine crystals often form into small kidney stones, which pass painlessly. However, if a large kidney stone develops, it can be excruciating. One painful symptom is “renal colic,” which happens when the kidney swells. The soreness happens intermittently, usually lasting for a few minutes. It occurs most often in the morning and at night. Nausea and vomiting are also telltale signs of kidney stones. Additionally, if the stone blocks the flow of urine, a severe infection can result.

Treatment

Most of the time, kidney stones are passed on their own within six weeks. The doctor may prescribe pain medication to ease discomfort. The child will also be required to rest in bed and drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Larger stones may need to be broken up or surgically removed. One treatment is called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. In this procedure, high intensity ultrasound waves are shot toward the stone, effectively breaking it up. A stone located in the bladder or ureter can be broken up by cystoscopy. A viewing tube and crushing device are passed up through the ureter and can either pull the stone out or crush it. Another option is percutaneous lithotripsy. It is a surgical procedure that inserts a tube through an incision in one side of the body. Doctors then use electricity or ultrasound waves to break up the stone.

Causes

Doctors do not know what causes kidney stones. However, some factors increase the risk of getting one. Dehydration is a major reason, so it is recommended that you drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. Metabolism imbalances are also believed to trigger crystals in the urine, leading to kidney stones. The imbalance causes mineral salts to collect in the urine, which could build into kidney stones. Thyroid, bowel or intestinal problems are also prime suspects.

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