Kidney stones; symptoms and causes

Kidney stones; symptoms and causes

Kidney stones; symptoms and causes

If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you may be all too familiar with the pain that is associated with them. If you’ve been lucky enough to never develop a kidney stone, understanding the signs and symptoms of one can help prevent pain, discomfort long-term damage to the kidney. Also, by learning the common causes of kidney stones, you can reduce your chances of experiencing one yourself.

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Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

 

Causes of kidney stones

Kidney stones have many causes and can affect any part of your urinary tract from your kidneys to your bladder. Often, stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. Kidney stones form when there is a decrease in urine volume and/or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine. The most common type of kidney stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. A majority of kidney stones are calcium stones. Other chemical compounds that can form stones in the urinary tract include uric acid, magnesium ammonium phosphate, and the amino acid cysteine.

Dehydration from reduced fluid intake or strenuous exercise without adequate fluid replacement increases the risk of kidney stones. Obstruction to the flow of urine can also lead to stone formation. In this regard, climate may be a risk factor for kidney stone development, since residents of hot and dry areas are more likely to become dehydrated and susceptible to stone formation.

Kidney stones can also result from infection in the urinary tract. These are known as struvite or infection stones. Metabolic abnormalities, including inherited disorders of metabolism, can alter the composition of the urine and increase an individual’s risk of stone formation.

 

Symptoms of kidney stones

There are different types of kidney stones. But generally, stones begin causing symptoms when they block the outflow of the urine from the kidney leading to the bladder because it causes the kidney to stretch. Typically, a person feels a sharp, cramping pain in the back and in the side of the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen, which may then spread to the groin. Sometimes a person will notice blood in the urine. If the stone is too large to pass easily, the pain will continue as the muscles in the wall of the tiny ureter try to squeeze the stone along into the bladder. One may feel the need to urinate more often or feel a burning sensation during urination.

 

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