March 6, 2023
Kidney Stones

What is a kidney stone?

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that form in the kidneys and is often painful when passed. The hard deposits are minerals and acid salts that sick together in concentrated urine. They can be painful when passing through the urinary tract, but usually don’t cause permanent damage.
There are four different types of kidney stones. Calcium stones are the most common type, these often form when you are not getting enough fluids or calcium. Uric stones are another common type, and these are often a genetic type of kidney stone that runs in families, but can also be formed by having a high level of purine (natural chemical found in some meats and shell fish). Struvite stones are less common and form when the bacteria commonly found in upper urinary tract infections get into your urinary tract. And finally, cystine stones. These are often caused by a rare condition called cystinuria, which is commonly passed down in families. These stones will reoccur throughout life and cannot be cured.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

The most common symptom of having a kidney stone is severe pain, typically in the side of the abdomen. Other symptoms may include blood in the urine, nausea or vomiting, fever and chills, or urine that smells bad or looks cloudy. However, if you have a small kidney stone, it may travel out of your body through your urine. You may not experience any symptoms and may never know that you even had a kidney stone.

What is the treatment for kidney stones?

The treatment for kidney stones is dependent on the type of stone, the size of the stone, if the stone is causing any pain, or if the stone is blocking your urinary tract. Some stones can be passed on it’s on by drinking enough fluids to flush it out, others require medication to help relax your ureter, making it easier for the stone to pass, and in some extreme situations surgical intervention may be required.

What causes kidney stones, and can it be prevented?

Anyone can get kidney stones, but some people are more likely to develop a stone than others. Men tend to get kidney stones more often than women. You may also be more likely to develop a stone if you have had them before. Some of the causes of stones are not drinking enough water, obesity, eating foods with too much salt of sugar, and family history can also be a determining factor.
You can help prevent stones by drinking enough water which will allow your urine to become less concentrated with waste products. Most people should drink at least 12 glasses or more of water per day. Your physician will be able to determine the daily suggested intake of water based off your health. And, of course adjusting your diet can also help prevent the form of kidney stones. You will want to eat a well-balanced diet. However, ultimately the type of stone will be able to determine the appropriate steps needed to prevent the stones or better course of treatment if there is a chance of reoccurrence.  
This information was brought to you by American Urological Association, American Kidney Fund, and National Kidney Foundation.