Passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful things a person can experience -some say it’s as painful as childbirth. People can have kidney stones for years without realizing it. A kidney stone’s pain usually begins when it moves out of the kidney.
The best way to prevent kidney stones, and having to pass one, is to know what causes them in the first place. Sometimes, you can make simple lifestyle changes to avoid them. Other times, you may need to develop a plan with your doctor if you have a medical condition that may lead to stone formation.
What is a Kidney Stone?
A kidney stone is a solid mass or crystal that is irregularly formed and can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Kidney stones form from substances that normally pass through the urinary system. Low urine volume can cause compounds to become highly concentrated and crystallized. Stone-forming substances include:
- Uric acid
A large kidney stone can become lodged in the tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder. When this occurs, the stone can cause bleeding and prevent urine from exiting the body. A stone that won’t pass on its own may necessitate surgery.
8 Causes of Kidney Stones
A combination of factors often causes kidney stones. There is no single cause.
Risk factors include:
1. Drinking too little water or dehydration
Not getting enough daily water can increase the chances of developing kidney stones. People who live in hot, dry climates, or sweat a lot through exercise may be more vulnerable than others.
A high body mass index (BMI), a large waist size, and weight gain have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.
3. Eating foods containing stone-forming substances
Consuming foods that contain the substances that form the stones can lead to their development. Phosphate, for example, is in meat, fish, beans, and other protein-rich foods.
4. Eating foods high in sugar
Consuming too much fructose and sucrose increases the risk of developing kidney stones. Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup can contribute to stone formation.
5. Eating foods high in salt
Too much dietary salt increases the amount of calcium moving through the kidneys, which increases the risk of kidney stones. This is due to a complex process in how the kidneys filter out excess sodium.
6. Medical conditions
Conditions such as repeat urinary tract infections and hyperparathyroidism alter the levels of substances that make up kidney stones, increasing the risk.
Some medications increase the chance of developing a stone, including:
- Diuretics or water pills
- Antacids containing calcium
- Vitamin C
- Dietary supplements
- Laxatives, when used excessively
- Certain medications used to treat migraines
- Certain medications used to treat depression
8. Digestive problems and surgery
Changes in the digestive process induced by gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or persistent diarrhea might impair calcium and water absorption, increasing the amount of stone-forming compounds in the urine.
Signs and Symptoms
A stone can be present in the kidney for years without causing problems. However, if it begins to move or becomes very large, it often causes symptoms. Pain in the lower back or side of the body is a common symptom of a kidney stone. This pain may begin as a dull ache that comes and goes. It can also worsen and necessitate a trip to the emergency room. In addition to pain, other signs and symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Finding blood in the urine
- Experiencing pain while urinating
- Inability to urinate
- Having an increased need to urinate
- High fever or chills
- Having urine that smells foul or appears cloudy
If you are concerned about kidney stones, don’t delay. Call 843-347-2450 to schedule an appointment today.