Causes of kidney stones and how to avoid them
It is estimated that one in 10 people will have kidney stones at some point in their life. Understanding the symptoms and possible causes can help you know what to expect.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a piece of solid material that forms in the kidney from substances found in urine. Shapes and sizes vary – it can be as small as a grain of salt or as large as a golf ball.
Although most kidney stones pass out of the body on their own, there are cases where they can get stuck in the urinary tract and block the flow of urine, causing painful symptoms.
What causes kidney stones?
Although there is no single cause for kidney stones, research shows that several factors can increase your risk of developing the disease.
You are more likely to get kidney stones if you have a family history. Having kidney stones once also increases the risk of developing them again. They can appear at any time, but people between the ages of 40 and 60 are most likely to develop the disease. They are also more common in men.
Dehydration is one of the reasons this condition can develop. When a person is dehydrated, they produce less water, causing the urine to concentrate with minerals and compounds that can form stones.
They can also occur under certain conditions, such as:
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Digestive diseases
What are the symptoms?
Experts say that the pain and symptoms caused by kidney stones can change if the stones move to another location or when they pass through your urinary tract.
These symptoms include:
- Severe pain in the back, lower abdomen and groin
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Pink, red or brown urine
- Cloudy or urine odor
- Increased urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
If you experience any symptoms that cause concern, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
How are kidney stones diagnosed and treated?
Doctors take your medical history, perform a physical exam, and rely on tests to diagnose this condition.
Treatment largely depends on the type of stones, their size, and their location in the body. Treatment may consist of removing the stones or breaking them into small pieces. Depending on the patient, the doctor may recommend drinking water, changing their diet, or taking medication to help clear the stones.
How can you avoid kidney stones?
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining good hydration, especially when you exercise or sweat a lot are important factors in helping prevent them. Unless you have kidney failure, health professionals recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. You may also consider eating oxalate-rich foods, such as peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, or beets, in moderation or combining these foods with calcium. The same goes for foods high in purines, which are often found in red meat or shellfish.
To learn more about kidney stones or to speak with a doctor if you have any concerns, schedule an appointment with our doctor on diagnostar.com.