Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, which are also known as calculi or renal lithiasis, are masses of crystals and protein that build up in the kidneys. These are the most common causes of obstruction within the urinary tract. The stones are formed from acid salts and minerals. These kidney stones can affect any part of the urinary tract from the bladder to the kidneys. When urine gets concentrated, minerals can crystallize and augment together forming small hard crystals. A person may experience pain when passing the stones but they may not cause permanent damage.


Although there may be no definite single cause for kidney stones, there are certain minerals and acids, which have been identified as possible causes of these stones. Kidney stones form as a result of presence of crystal forming substances like oxalate, uric acid, and calcium. This happens when the presence of these substances is more than the fluid in body can dilute.

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The stones may also form when the body lack substances, which prevent crystals from sticking together, thus create a situation where crystallization can easily occur. There are different types of kidney stones and they include calcium stones. This is the common cause of kidney stones in body and usually occurs in form of calcium oxalate. In addition, calcium stones may also occur as calcium phosphate.

Other kidney stones are those formed from struvite stone. These stones form as the body tries to respond to an infection occurring in the urinary tract. Uric acids may also accumulate and harden to form stones. Uric acid stones may affect people who do not take sufficient water or fluids. People who eat high protein diet or those with gout are also likely to suffer from uric acid stones. People with hereditary disorders that make the kidney to release high levels of certain amino acids, a condition known as cystinuria, are more likely to suffer cystine stones.

Symptoms of kidney stones

A person suffering from kidney stones may not show signs but when the stones move down the ureters, there can be blockage of the urinary tract. One of the symptoms is a severe pain, which manifests abruptly and goes away suddenly. The pain could be felt at the side of the back or around the belly area. The pain could also move to groin area as well as around the testicles.

There are also other symptoms, which may be experienced like chance in urine color, and presence of blood in urine. A patient may also experience chills, vomiting, nausea and fever which are secondary signs. The fever and chills may occur if an infection is present. Persistent urge to urinate may be another sign. Patients may also have cloudy or foul smelling urine.

Teats and diagnosis

As the stone moves through the urinary tract, there may be shift of pain to different locations coupled with increased intensity. If you notice presence of blood in urine and have difficult in passing urine, you need to see a doctor. Similarly, when you feel pain that is so severe and you are unable to sit, you should consult a physician.

Pain that is accompanied by chills and fever should compel you to see a doctor. The doctor may carry out different tests to examine if you have kidney stones. Blood samples may be tested for calcium, uric acid, phosphorus, and electrolyte levels. Another test would be that of kidney function. Urinalysis may be done to look for crystals and presence of red blood cells in urine. CT scan and MRI or x rays may be done to examine the type of stone.


Treatment of kidney stones is aimed at controlling the amount of uric acid and minerals in body. The medication depends mainly on the kind of kidney stone. For calcium stones, diuretics like thiazide may be administered to prevent the formation of crystals.

To prevent uric acid levels that form uric acid stones, medications may be administered to keep the urine alkaline and reduce acid levels in blood. If you suffer from struvite stones, which are caused by body’s response to an infection in the urinary tract, antibiotics may be administered to fight bacterial infection.

Managing and preventing kidney stones

Lifestyle changes can help in preventing kidney stones and it is recommended that you drink water throughout the day. If you come from a family that has history of kidney stones, you are advised to develop a habit of taking water daily. In addition, if you live in hot dry area where the body is likely to lose a lot of water through the skin, you are advised to take more water.

Similarly, if you exercise frequently, you should take sufficient water to supplement water lost through sweating. You also need to watch your diet and this could mean taking foods that has fewer oxalate content. These foods are such as chocolate, tea, nuts, sweet potatoes, beets, rhubarb and soy products. A diet low in salt and animal protein is also recommended.

Kidney Stone Pictures



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