Causes of Kidney Stones
Other medical conditions
Kidney stones are also termed as renal lithiasis or nephrolithiasis. They are basically hard deposits which are formed inside the kidneys due to the salts and the minerals. There are many causes which contribute to the forming of the kidney stones. It also tends to affect any part of the urinary system of the individual causing a lot of discomfort. When the urine becomes concentrated wherein it allows the minerals to crystallize thus sticking together and forming stones in the kidney. The individual has to bear a lot of pain and these stones also do not pass easily from the urinary bladder. If they are diagnosed on a timely manner it does not lead to any permanent damage. One should go in for the correct course of treatment once diagnosis is done.
Kidney stones are mostly formed where there is reduction in the volume of urine or if there are excess of stone forming harmful substances present in the urine. The common type of kidney stones would contain substance calcium along with or in combination with phosphate or oxalate. The major cases of kidney stones which are reported are all related to calcium stones. The other chemical compound which is known to form kidney stones in the urinary tract are magnesium ammonium phosphate forming struvite stones, uric acid forming uric acid stone and amino acid cysteine.
There are varied reasons on why the kidney stones are formed,
Genetic: Heredity can play an important role for some people who are susceptible for formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones majorly are made up of calcium and hypercalciuria which would mean there are high levels of calcium in the urine. This tendency to have high calcium levels present in the urine would be passed on from one generation to another. There can be certain cases wherein due to some rare form of diseases which pass from one generation to another could have led to the formation of kidney stones. One such example would include those individuals suffering from renal tubular acidosis and those suffering from metabolizing of varied chemicals such as cysteine, uric acid or oxalate. Hyperoxaluria is also an inherited condition which is not common though but is called as primary hyperoxaluria. The rise in the level of oxalate present in the urine can lead to an increase in the risk of formation of stones. The primary hyperoxaluria is a less common condition than the hyperoxaluria which is caused due to the dietary related factors.
Geographical location: Where an individual resides can also act as a major cause of concern when it comes to forming kidney stones in the body. Those individuals residing in the southern United States have an increased risk of forming kidney stones since those regions are called as stone belts. The climate in such regions are hot and to add to it the fluid intake is also less leading to the high cases of dehydration. In such conditions the urine becomes concentrated allowing the chemicals to come in closer contact so as to form nidus or one can call it a stone.
Chronic or underlying medical condition: There are certain chronic conditions which are also associated with formation of kidney stones. Those illnesses would include cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Medications: There are certain medications or drugs which increase the likelihood of an individual to develop a specific type of kidney stone.
- Uric acid stones; medicines which can lead to one developing uric acid stones are salicylates which are product of aspirin, thiazides such as hydrochlorothiazide and gout medicines such as probenecid.
- Calcium stones; medicines which make an individual more prone to develop calcium stones are certain types of antacids, theophylline, loop diuretics which would include acetazolamide and furosemide, dexamethasone. Increase intake of vitamin C and vitamin D also increase the risk of getting calcium kidney stones.
There are certain medications which would result in the body making the kidney stones. Those medicines would include acyclovir which are antivirals, indiavir which is a protease inhibitor and triamterene which is a potassium sparing diuretics.
Diet: For certain individuals, diet plays a vital role in the formation of kidney stones. If an individual is prone to developing kidney stones, foods high in animal proteins and salt can lead to an increased risk of this illness. However, if the individual is not prone to kidney stones, then the diet probably would not affect the risk. Below are food items that increase the risk of kidney stones:
- Caffeine: Increased intake of caffeine in the form of tea, soda, or coffee can cause unnecessary stress on the kidneys, leading to the formation of kidney stones. This happens due to the rise in calcium levels in the urine and, at times, failure of the kidneys that can exhaust them and prevent them from carrying out their vital function.
- Artificial sweeteners: Use of artificial sweeteners in any product, whether it is coffee or diet soda, can impair the proper functioning of the kidneys if they are consumed for a longer duration. Hence, it is best to stick with natural sweeteners, such as honey or stevia.
- Meat: Animal proteins found in meat can also damage the kidneys or cause kidney stones. Individuals who have a high protein diet put unnecessary stress on the kidneys because it is difficult to eliminate the animal protein waste from the body in an efficient manner. Meat is also linked to the formation of uric acid stones since they are high in uric acid.
- Salt: Sodium in moderate and healthy amounts does not harm the body because it is required for maintaining healthy fluid levels. However, adding more salt to foods or consuming processed foods that contain high levels of salt can cause water retention, wherein excess sodium is not flushed from the body, leading to kidney and blood pressure issues.
- Carbonated cold drinks: Drinks such as soda, energy drinks, or any kind of carbonated drinks are not good for the overall health of the body, and they also increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Instead, go in for water, and for those who find it difficult to drink plain water all the time, try natural fruit juices such as orange or pomegranate juice.
- Leafy vegetables: Kidney stones are usually formed due to the buildup of calcium oxalate in the urine. Individuals who have higher levels of the chemical compound in their urine become more prone to stones in the kidney. Hence, it is very important to stay away from certain leafy vegetables, such as spinach or okra.
- Diary items: Dairy products are known to be high in calcium, which is very important for strengthening the bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. However, those individuals who are prone to getting kidney stones should stay away from calcium. It causes an increase in the excretion of calcium in the urine, leading to difficulty eliminating the waste and thus causing kidney stones in the individual.
- Processed goods: A bag of chips certainly tastes yummy, but are you aware that these processed food items contain ingredients which have been genetically modified? Examples are corn, soy, and rice. This is done to protect the crops from harmful pests. But intake of these products can lead to damage to the liver and kidneys. It also gives way to the formation of kidney stones.
Gout can also result in an increased amount of uric acid in the urine and blood, thus leading to the formation of uric acid stones.