Healthy Living

How Do Kidney Stones Develop?

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are a condition that affects around 15 percent of the world's population. For reasons unknown, the condition's prevalence has increased over the last 30 years. Kidney stones more often affect men than women. 

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones or renal lithiasis is the formation of hard, ball-like structures in the urinary system of a person. These stones are made up of minerals and acidic salts. When people have kidney stones, they may experience intense pain in their back, abdomen, or side and when urinating.

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Kidney stones

As stones come out when a person is passing urine, the person experiences pain in the bladder and ureter. A patient will also find blood in urine as a result of the rubbing of the urethra as the urine with stones exits the body. The condition also causes other unpleasant issues such as fever, vomiting, and weakness.

When a person fails to consume the minimum amount of water required by the body, the calcium, phosphate, and oxalate particles that are formed inside our body accumulate in the urethra. They start out as small stones, which after a long time of accumulating salts, form big stones. After the formation of these big stones, passing urine from the body becomes difficult since the kidney stones act like blockages in the bladder, which do not let the urine pass through quickly.

What do they look like?

Kidney stones form in different shapes and sizes. They vary from minuscule microscopic ones to the size of a golf ball. The stones are smooth and yellow or brown in color. Various blood and urine tests can be done to check whether people have kidney stones in their stomach or not.

Formation of the Different Types of Kidney Stones

There are four different types of kidney stones, which form differently and under different conditions. They are:

  • Cystine Stones - These stones are formed when an individual has a rare genetic condition called cystinuria, which causes cystine to leak into the urine. Excessive cystine in the urine can cause the formation of kidney stones, which can obstruct the urinary tract system. People who have cystinuria tend to have recurring stones.
  • Uric Acid Stones - These stones are formed as a result of excess uric acid in the urine. When you consume excessive amounts of animal proteins, you can also increase the amount of uric acid in your urine, and the acid settles to form stones in the urinary system.
  • Calcium Stones - These are formed by calcium compounds such as calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. They are the most common types of stones, especially calcium oxalate, which results from excess calcium and oxalate in the system. Calcium phosphate stones, meanwhile, form as a result of high urine pH. Certain conditions such as hyperparathyroidism can also increase an individual's risk of developing calcium stones. However, there are also medications that may prevent the formation of these stones. 
  • Struvite Stones - These stones may develop due to urinary tract infections. Struvite stones tend to grow larger along with an infection. Women are more likely to develop these stones since they are more prone to having urinary tract infections. 

There are also other types of stones that may develop due to various deficiencies or excess of some minerals or components.

Effects of Sodium in the Formation of Kidney Stones

Sodium is also a major cause of kidney stones. Excess sodium in the body, especially from salt, causes the excretion of calcium through the urine. This calcium combines with other compounds such as oxalate and phosphate, which form kidney stones.

How do you know if you have kidney stones?

There are some symptoms that can indicate if you have kidney stones. They include:

  • Experiencing pain in the abdomen, side, and lower back
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Hematuria or the presence of blood in urine 
  • Nausea and vomiting

How do you prevent the formation of kidney stones?

  • Sufficient intake of fluids, most especially water - Sufficient and regular intake of water will prevent calcium and other minerals from accumulating in the urinary system. As a result, no kidney stones will be formed.
  • To prevent calcium stones - Reduce your intake of animal protein. Minimize sodium and avoid eating foods with high oxalate content such as nuts, spinach, and rhubarb.
  • To prevent uric acid stones - Reduce your intake of animal proteins such as organ meat and red meat.
  • To avoid the formation of calcium phosphate stones - Take little amounts of sodium and reduce your intake of animal proteins.
  • Consume fiber-rich foods - Include a lot of fibrous foods in your diet such as dried beans, edible beans, lentils, and chickpeas, oranges, and leafy vegetables.

Home remedies have also proven to be very useful in getting rid of small-sized kidney stones. Natural, organic ingredients such as honey, lemon, apple cider vinegar, basil tea, pomegranate juice, kidney beans, and other fibrous food items can work wonders when daily consumed. They have the natural ability to break down, soften, and dissolve kidney stones. 

The Bottom Line

Kidney stones are a condition that is mostly found in people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. It is important to seek treatment once you notice any symptoms. Such symptoms have to be clearly identified through various types of tests.

Kidney stones can be fatal but in quite rare cases. It can be treated with medications, operations, and periodical treatments. For minor cases of kidney stones, natural and home remedies can be used. If proper attention is given to health problems and the changes taking place inside our bodies, especially when it comes to our most important organs and physiological processes, such issues will become easier to identify and treat.

Kidney stones can cause intense pain to the person who has them, so if they have developed, they need to be treated as soon as possible. It is important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. But even before kidney stones occur, you can make some necessary changes in your lifestyle and diet to prevent them from forming at all. 

Key Takeaways

  • Kidney stones are the formation of ball-like structures in the urinary system of a person. They are made up of minerals and acidic salts.
  • The four main types of kidney stones are cystine stones, uric acid stones, calcium stones, and struvite stones. 
  • Excess sodium is a major cause of kidney stones.