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The Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Kidney Stones

Updated on January 5, 2013
wikimedia (public domain)
wikimedia (public domain) | Source

Common Facts about Kidney Stones

Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis or renal stones) are one of the most painful conditions in the urinary tract system, and which consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. A kidney stone is a hard mass which is formed from crystals that separate from the urine within the urinary tract. Usually, the crystals are prevented from forming by inhibitors, in other words, the chemicals in the urine, but does not always work for everyone especially if the disorder is hereditary. It is not exactly clear on what causes kidney stones to develop, but certain foods can increase the possibility of these stones to form in the urinary tract system, and the waste products in which the processes of the body's chemicals pass out of the kidneys in the urine. These waste products are able to crystallize into structures which look like stone of different sizes within the kidney, and these are known as kidney stones. Or sometimes a lack of chemicals that normally prevent the crystals from forming can lead to this painful urinary condition to occur. These crystals usually begin by developing into fine gravel and it may take years for it to reach a certain size that causes problems. However, there are particular reasons which may cause kidney stones to develop and taking necessary precautions can indeed reduce the chances of kidney stones from forming. The list below are the most common causes of kidneys stones according to extensive research.

Possible Causes of Kidney Stones

  • Inadequate fluid intake (dehydration) - This is most common cause of kidney stones, drinking less water and sometimes dehydrating the body. People who live in hot climates may be at the risk of developing kidney stones. This is because of fluid lost in the body due to sweat and not drinking sufficient water to replace the loss.
  • Build-up of substances - This may be the build-up of calcium, ammonia, amino acid such as cystine, or uric acid which is a waste product in the body. Or different types of kidney stones can form, depending on the waste products that crystallize out of the urine, and these waste products are mostly made of calcium salts.
  • Kidney stones may also develop from a long-standing urinary tract infection. In such cases, the stones can grow into a shape of a staghorn, and filling the central cavity of the kidney.
  • Kidney stones can be hereditary where it can run in families from several generations.
  • Taking in too much vitamin C or D supplements may also promote kidney stones.
  • Eating excessive amounts of protein with low fibre is another trigger.

Very tiny kidney stones may pass in the urine unnoticed. However, larger stones, or small fragments of stones that travel down the ureter, which is the tube from the kidneys to the bladder, may cause very painful spasms of the ureter wall called renal colic. There are several possible symptoms for kidney stones and most of these symptoms usually appear suddenly.

Possible Symptoms of Kidney Stones

  • Severe pain or an ache that starts in the back, spreads to the abdomen and groin, and sometimes may be felt in the genitals in men.
  • Urinating more often and sometimes burning sensations during urination, also may be painful. (If a kidney stone is passed in the urine the pain will subside rapidly)
  • Urine becomes cloudy, smelly or signs of blood may be noticed in the urine.
  • Nausea or feeling the urge to vomit.
  • Unable to lie still due to restlessness.
  • Sometimes a fever (high temperature) or chills may accompany these symptoms above. In this case, medical attention must be sought immediately.

Possible Preventions & Treatments for Kidney Stones

  • Visit your doctor which is the most important step to take. If the stones are small and remain in the kidney, the doctor may simply advise you to take a rest, or prescribe painkillers to relieve the discomfort and to consume plenty of fluids to help flush out the stones into the urine. Depending on the severity, your doctor may inject the painkiller rather than taking pills.
  • Avoid dehydration by drinking at least 3 litres of water daily. This will even prevent further kidney stones from developing. You can also add drops of lemon juice in the water which can help to dissolve the kidney stones.
  • Drink fluids before going to bed to ensure that urine production in the urinary tract system continues to work overnight.
  • Eat less dairy products and don't take antacids which contain calcium, unless it's necessary. This will prevent calcium stones from producing in the kidneys. Another type of kidney stones is called oxalate stones which is basically made up of calcium oxalate. To prevent these stones from occurring, avoid spinach, rhubarb and asparagus because these type of foods contain oxalic acid. If you must eat them, lower your quantities and drink plenty of water.
  • Doing regular exercise and changing your diet can make a significant difference.
  • Drink more fluids in hot weather, or after strenuous exercise (This will drastically prevent kidney stones from occuring)

Most importantly, see a doctor if symptoms occur suddenly, or if they persist. Some people may require surgical removal of the kidney stones, especially when the pain is too much to bear. Sometimes, kidney stones may reoccur and it's best to take certain measures to prevent it. There are also herbal remedies to treat kidney stones such as herbal tea. The link below will direct you to a product which helps to break down kidney stones as well as other benefits for the body. Please read the information thoroughly and carefully before deciding if the product will benefit you.


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    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      A very informative and helpful hub that is easy to understand. Marked up.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 5 years ago

      Thanks for the additional advice.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      To help reduce risk of kidney stone, adequate fluid intake is essential. Also avoid sugar as that depletes magnesium. Having enough magnesium also help prevent kidney stones.

      People who tend to form calcium oxalate stones may want to consider a low-oxalate diet.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Good job on describing the causes, symptoms and treatment of kidney stones, aziza!

    • Arren123 profile image

      Arren123 5 years ago from UK

      Interesting hub, thanks for sharing, voted up and interesting :)

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Very detailed explanation provided in layman's terms instead of clinical jargon! Great Job!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow awesome write.. My mother died of kidney disease it was long and painful for her.. my nephew has always had kidney stones and he is in his thirtys.. he was in Irak when it first hit him. very painful

      I love this .. I am sharing