Kidney stones, you might have heard of the condition from someone who had them and know they can be pretty painful. Fortunately, that is the only thing, and it cannot cause serious damage to your kidneys or other important components in the urinary tract system – if caught timely! This is a good thing because kidney stones are quite common in the United States. Approximately, 1 in 10 people will suffer from kidney stones at least once in their life. Make sure you know how to recognize kidney stones and what to do if you suffer from them.
What Are Kidney Stones?
Urine contains various dissolved wastes, like salts and minerals in it. When there is too much waste in too little urine, these wastes will begin to stick together and crystallize. These crystals are called kidney stones – also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis. These stones vary in size. Some are as little as peas and others can be as big as a golf ball. You can imagine that a stone the size of a pea will not bother you as much as a stone the size of a golf ball. Especially when you also know that they have to leave the body through the (narrow) urethra.
Causes & Risk Factors
Kidney stones are divided into 4 types, and it is important to know how they are caused. The types are:
- Calcium stones; are caused by too much oxalate in your urine.
- Struvite stones; are caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Uric acid stones; are caused by losing too much fluid or a high-protein diet
- Cystine stones; are caused by the hereditary disorder cystinuria. Which causes the kidneys to discharge too much of a particular amino acid.
Researchers do know how kidney stones form – too many crystal-forming wastes in the urine or a lack of substances in the urine that prevents the wasted to crystallize – but why someone gets kidney stones is still unknown. However, there are a few factors that increase the risk of getting them. Risk factors include genetics, dehydration, high protein or high sodium diets, medical conditions like digestive diseases, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure & hyperparathyroidism, and the use of certain medications that treat migraines or depression. Continue reading on the next page and find out, among others how you can recognize you’re having kidney stones and when you should see a doctor.