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What are the Most Common Causes of Kidney Stones?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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The most common causes of kidney stones include a hereditary tendency toward forming them, excessive buildup of calcium, a side effect of urinary tract infections, and a response to too much acid in the urine. Each type of kidney stone, calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine, have a different cause. It may be possible to reduce the chances of a recurrence of kidney stones by understanding the causes of kidney stones and the reason for the initial condition.

Calcium stones are the most frequent variety of kidney stone. They develop as a result of an excess of calcium in the body. This calcium surplus it is sometimes not completely flushed from the kidneys into the urine. The calcium that remains behind then combines with other waste products to form a stone.

Struvite kidney stones are caused by infection. The are the only type of stone that is not brought about by a metabolism disorder. They form when magnesium and ammonia accumulate in the kidneys. They most often develop after a urinary tract infection, and are especially common in women.

Uric acid kidney stones form when the normal urine excretion process fails to remove enough uric acid. This means that the uric acid in the blood becomes too concentrated, resulting in the formation of stones. This condition is generally associated with the disease known as gout.

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Cystine stones are the least common type of kidney stones. Cystine makes up nerves, muscles, and other body parts. The cystine can build up in the urine and form a stone. These stones tend to be hereditary.

Regardless of the causes of kidney stones, the symptoms are the same. Extreme, sharp, or cramping pain in the back, side, or lower portion of the abdomen, potentially spreading to the groin, as well as nausea, blood in the urine, pain while urinating, and an odor to the urine. A healthcare provider will confirm the diagnosis through x-ray or sonogram. It is possible to have silent stones, which are painless and picked up by an x-ray during a routine health examination. These kidney stones typically pass with no problems.

Whether the causes of kidney stones are lifestyle or genetic, treatment will depend on the patient's medical history, the opinion of the physician, and the severity of the stones. Some kidney stones pass without requiring treatment. Medical treatments include extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, and ureteroscopy.

ESWL directs shock waves to the kidney stone. This breaks up the stone into smaller pieces, making it easier to pass. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a medical procedure where a tiny incision is made in the back and a tunnel is created through the back muscle and into the kidney, giving the surgeon access to remove the kidney stone. Ureteroscopy is a medical procedure where a small camera is inserted into the urethra and passed up the ureta. The doctor uses the camera to locate the stone and removes it using a small cage.

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AnswerMan
Post 2

I've been on my own kidney stone diet for 20 years now. My doctor believes I was eating and drinking too many dairy products when I was younger, so now I avoid any milk-based products after 7pm. I also drink pure cranberry juice to balance out the acid levels in my urinary tract. I don't drink carbonated beverages at all, and I have cut way back on sodium.

I don't have a family history of kidney stones, so whatever the cause of my first kidney stone attack was, it probably won't recur unless I fall off the diet wagon. My doctor suspects it may have been excessive uric acid, like gout in my kidneys.

RocketLanch8
Post 1

I think in my case, it was a combination of heredity and eating too many foods that can cause kidney stones. When I was in my 20s, my diet was horrible. I drank a lot of sugary sodas and salty junk foods, along with fatty dairy products. I also failed to keep hydrated at work like I should have. My first kidney stone attack put me in the hospital for three days, and I was on IV fluids the entire time.

My doctor said I needed to make a lot of lifestyle changes if I wanted to reduce the severity of future kidney stones. He said I would probably continue to develop stones about every three to four years, but if I maintained a good kidney stone diet, the attacks wouldn't be as serious.

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