Treatment of Kidney Stones

Your kidneys remove waste and fluid from your blood to make urine. Sometimes, when you have too much of certain wastes and not enough fluid in your blood, these wastes can build up and stick together in your kidneys. These clumps of waste are called kidney stones.

What are the causes and risk factors of kidney stones?

Family or personal history – If someone in your family has kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop stones, too. And if you’ve already had one or more kidney stones, you’re at increased risk of developing another.

Dehydration – Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones. People who live in warm climates and those who sweat a lot may be at higher risk than others.

Certain diets – Eating a diet that’s high in protein, sodium (salt) and sugar may increase your risk of some types of kidney stones. This is especially true with a high-sodium diet. Too much salt in your diet increases the amount of calcium your kidneys must filter and significantly increases your risk of having kidneys stone
Being obese. High body mass index (BMI), large waist size and weight gain have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.

Digestive diseases and surgery Gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea can cause changes in the digestive process that affect your absorption of calcium and water, increasing the levels of stone-forming substances in your urine.

Anyone can get a kidney stone, but some people are more likely than others to have them. Men get kidney stones more often than women do. You may also be more likely to have kidney stones if:

  • You have had kidney stones before.
  • Someone in your family has had kidney stones.
  • You don’t drink enough water.
  • You follow a diet high in protein, sodium and/or sugar.
  • You are overweight or obese.
  • You have had gastric bypass surgery or another intestinal surgery.
  • You have polycystic kidney disease or another cystic kidney disease.
  • You have a certain condition that causes your urine to contain high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium.
  • You have a condition that causes swelling or irritation in your bowel or your joints.
  • You take certain medicines, such as diuretics (water pills) or calcium-based antacids.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

If you have a very small kidney stone that moves easily through your urinary tract, you may not have any symptoms, and may never know that you had a kidney stone.

If you have a larger kidney stone, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Blood in your urine
  • Sharp pain in your back or lower abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting

How can I prevent kidney stones?

The best way to prevent most kidney stones is to drink enough fluids every day. Most people should drink eight to 12 cups of fluid per day. If you have kidney disease and need to limit fluids, ask your doctor how much fluid you should have each day. Limiting sodium and animal protein (meat, eggs) in your diet may also help to prevent kidney stones. If your doctor can find out what your kidney stone is made of, he or she may be able to give you specific diet recommendations to help prevent future kidney stones.

If you have a health condition that makes you more likely to have kidney stones, your doctor might tell you to take medicine to treat this condition.

Never start or stop any treatment or diet without talking to your doctor first!

Types of kidney stones

  • Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. They are usually made of calcium and oxalate (a natural chemical found in most foods), but are sometimes made of calcium and phosphate.
  • Uric acid stones form when your urine is often too acidic. Uric acid can form stones by itself or with calcium.
  • Struvite stones can happen when you have certain types of urinary tract infections in which bacteria make ammonia that builds up in your urine. Struvite stones are made of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate.
  • Cystine stones are made of a chemical that your body makes naturally, called cystine. Cystine stones are very rare, and happen in people who have a genetic disorder that causes cystine to leak from the kidneys into the urine.

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large–sometimes larger than–a pearl. They can stay in your kidneys or travel through your ureters (the tubes that go from your kidneys to your bladder), and out of your body with your urine.

When a kidney stone moves through your ureters and out your urethra with your urine, it is called passing a kidney stone. A kidney stone can also get stuck in your urinary tract and block urine from getting through. When you pass a kidney stone or a large kidney stone blocks the flow of your urine, it can be very painful.

What are the treatments for kidney stones?

The good news is that the solution to kidney stones is right here…

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