Healthy Living

How do Kidney Stones Develop?

What are kidney stones?

Key Takeaways

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

Kidney stones are a condition that affects around 15 percent of the world 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 are the formation of ball-like structures in the urinary system of a person. These stones are made up of minerals and acidic salts. Once a person suffers this condition, he or she experiences a lot of pain, especially around the abdomen.

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 out quickly.

Kidney stones - what 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 tests and urine tests can be done to check whether the person has kidney stones in their stomach or not.

Formation of Different Types of Kidney Stones

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

  • Cysteine Stones: As the name suggests, these are stones that are built out of cysteine. They form when a person suffers from a genetic disorder which causes leaking of the cysteine, which forms crystals that accumulate in the kidney.
  • Uric Acid Stones: This is a condition that takes place as a result of excess uric acid in the urine. When you consume excess amounts of animal proteins such as fish, meats, and shellfish, you 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 type 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 pH urine. This is where there is a combination of both alkaline and calcium in the urine.
  • Struvite Stones: This is a condition that results from a urinary tract infection.
  • Others: Many other stones can occur due to various deficiencies or excess of some mineral or component.

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 stones.

How do you know that you have kidney stones?

There are some symptoms that can indicate that you have kidney stones.

  • Experiencing pain around the abdomen and the lower back
  • Fever
  • Problems when passing urine. There can be blood in the urine because the kidney stones can brush the walls of the urethra while passing out which can make it bleed.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Experiencing chills

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 urethra. As a result, no kidney stones will form.
  • To prevent calcium stones, reduce your intake of animal protein. Minimize sodium and avoid eating foods with excess oxalate content such as nuts, spinach, and rhubarb.
  • To prevent uric acid stones, reduce your intake of excess animal proteins such as meats and fish.
  • To avoid the formation of calcium phosphate stones, take little amounts of sodium and reduce your intake of animal proteins.
  • Do include a lot of fibrous foods like pulses (e.g. dried beans, edible beans, lentils, and chickpeas), oranges, and leafy vegetables, in your diet.
  • In a word, make the necessary changes to your diet and live a healthy life.
  • Home remedies have proven to be very useful in getting rid of small sized kidney stones. Natural, organic ingredients like honey, lemon, apple cider vinegar, basil tea, pomegranate juice, kidney beans, and other fibrous food items can work wonders if consumed daily. 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. Most of these people are men. Kidney stones start forming slowly. It is important to get treatment once you see any symptoms. Such symptoms have to be clearly identified through various types of tests. Kidney stones are in very rare cases fatal, but otherwise can be treated by medication, operations, periodical treatments, and for minor cases of kidney stones, even by using home remedies. If proper attention is given to health issues and the changes taking place inside our bodies, especially with respect to our most important organs and physiological processes, it will become easy to identify any health problems and take the necessary steps as and when required.

Kidney stones can cause extreme amounts of 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 your doctor so the necessary tests can be done in order for the proper treatment to be prescribed. But even before kidney stones occur, one can make the changes necessary to prevent them from forming at all.