Understanding Kidney Stones

A painful condition, kidney stones form when the kidneys are unable to get rid of waste products like calcium, oxalate and phosphate. These stay back in the kidney and form crystals, which are referred to as ‘Kidney Stones’. In some people, the reason for kidney stone formation may be the lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together. There are several types of kidney stones depending on the cause of stone formation.

  • Calcium Stones - The most common variety of kidney stones, Calcium stones are made of calcium oxalate.
  • Struvite Stones - This type of stone is usually found in women and are almost always the result of urinary tract infections
  • Uric Acid Stones - A byproduct of protein metabolism, this type of stone is commonly seen with gout
  • Cystine Stones - A hereditary disorder, these stones are caused due to a condition wherein the kidneys excrete massive amounts of amino acid cystinuria

Symptoms

If you have a kidney stone, you wouldn’t most probably know it until it moves into the ureter or the tube that connects the kidneys and the bladder. Kidney stones can be the size of grain of sand to that of a golf ball. Hence it’s important to seek immediate medical help, especially if you are in pain.These stones might take days or weeks to pass through urine, but if it does not, then there is a high risk of permanent urinary/ kidney damage

Look out for the following symptoms:

1. Pain below the ribs, in the side and back

2. Pain lasts for 20 minutes to an hour

3. Pain radiates like waves from he side and back to the lower abdomen

4. Nausea/ vomiting

5. Bloody/ cloudy/ smelly urine

6. Strong, uncontrollable urge to pass urine

7. Pain while urinating

8. Fever with chills

Additional Causes/ Risk Factors

Do you know that if the chances of recurrence of kidney stones are around 50%? Apart from the major causes, the following factors will increase the risk of occurrence of kidney stones substantially.

  • A high-salt diet – the sodium content in the salt can lead to formation of stones
  • Not drinking enough water – your needs plenty of water to process the waste-chemicals and flush it out in the form of urine. Drinking insufficient amounts of water will lead to concentration of urine and formation of stones. So drink at least 2 to 2.5 litres of water everyday.
  • A high sugar diet – increased intake of sugar can interfere with the calcium and magnesium absorption, leading to formation of stones. Sugar can also lead to increase in kidney size and produce pathological changes such as kidney stones.
  • Drinking too much carbonated drinks - Carbonated drinks are high in sugar and phosphorus acid that acidifies your urine, which in turn promotes formation of stone.
  • Lack of exercise – A sedentary lifestyle/ bed rest for a long period causes the bones to release more calcium. Only exercising can prevent this problem. Exercise also eases blood pressure, which is one of the main reasons for kidney problems.
  • Overeating – food rich in salt, sugar and oxalate may cause kidney stones
  • Certain Medications can increase the risk of kidney problems
  • Lack of calcium-rich foods - a calcium-rich diet helps prevent a chemical action that causes the formation of stones.
  • Magnesium deficiency - Magnesium plays an important role absorption and calcium. So if you consume calcium without adequate magnesium, the excess can accumulate to form stones.

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