Those who have experienced kidney stones understand how agonizing they can be. While very painful, kidney stones will typically pass on their own without leaving any damage behind. Patients with kidney stones are often prescribed medication and encouraged to wait them out. However, in some instances, kidney stones can become lodged in the urinary tract and cause infections or other serious complications. In these cases, advanced treatment may be necessary to rid the body of these deposits.
Fortunately, recent advancements in medical technology have led to new treatments for kidney stones when surgical intervention is needed. These treatments can help relieve individuals of their kidney stones and even prevent future ones from developing.
Many people do not realize that there are different kinds of kidney stones, and in order to prevent them from reoccurring, one must understand the specific causes of each.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones, also known as lithiasis and nephrolithiasis, are hard, solid deposits made of minerals and salts that develop inside the kidneys. These stones typically form as a result of high concentrations of salt in the urine that eventually crystalize. Kidney stones can occur for a variety of reasons, and while they develop in the kidneys, they can affect all parts of the urinary tract, including the bladder.
Types of Kidney Stones and Their Causes
Many people do not realize that there are different kinds of kidney stones, and in order to prevent them from reoccurring, one must understand the specific causes of each. For this reason, it is important for patients to keep their kidney stones once they’ve passed them, so that they can be evaluated by a doctor. Kidney stones are classified according to the type of salt that forms them; these include:
- Calcium stones: The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium stone. Calcium stones are a form of calcium oxalate, which is a naturally occurring substance. This substance is produced in the liver on a daily basis and is also found in certain foods like fruits, vegetables, chocolate, and nuts. Calcium stones can be caused by a variety of factors including diet, high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery, and metabolic disorders.
- Struvite stones: Struvite stones can grow quickly and occur with little warning and little to no symptoms. These stones often form as a side effect of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection.
- Uric acid stones: Uric acid stones are common in those who are not drinking enough fluid or are losing too much fluid. It is also common in people who consume too much protein, are suffering from gout or undergoing chemotherapy. All of these factors can increase the acidity of a person’s urine, thus causing the uric acid.
- Cystine stones: Cystine stones occur in people who suffer from the hereditary disorder, Cystinuria. This condition causes the kidneys to pass too much cystine acid into the urine.