Also known as renal calculi, kidney stones are solid masses that largely develop in the kidneys. However, they can also pop up anywhere along your urinary tract. They are made from salts and minerals and are notoriously painful when passing through the body.
Here, you’ll discover more about what kidney stones are and who generally tends to get them.
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are small, crystallized masses which form within the urinary tract. They are considered one of the most painful conditions you can suffer from, as the masses need to be passed through urination.
Did you know that there are actually different types of kidney stones you can develop? Each type is made up of different types of crystals. They also have different causes.
Understanding the Different Types
There are several different types of kidney stones, including:
- Uric acid
Calcium-based kidney stones are the most common type. They are mostly constructed from calcium oxalate and are often caused by high-oxalate foods. You can prevent them by decreasing your consumption of peanuts, potato chips, spinach and chocolate.
Cystine stones are the rarest type you can develop. They occur in both women and men who suffer with the cystinuria disorder. They are made from cystine acid which leaks out from the kidneys into the urine.
Uric acid stones tend to mostly occur in men who are either undergoing chemotherapy or who have gout. They develop when the urine contains too much acid. This can occur through a purine-rich diet, so you should limit foods such as shellfish and meats.
Finally, struvite stones largely affect women with urinary tract infections. This type of kidney stone can be quite big, blocking the urinary tract. As they are caused by a urinary infection, treating that will prevent further stones from forming.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Often, there is no single cause of kidney stones. However, there are some factors which can increase your risk of developing them.
One of the biggest risk factors is not drinking enough fluids. There needs to be plenty of liquid to dilute the minerals and salts within the urine. This prevents them from crystalizing.
There is also thought to be a gender link, with more men experiencing kidney stones than women. Interestingly, it’s also known that race could play a role. In America, far more white people experience kidney stones than any other ethnicity. A family history and your own history of kidney stones can also play a role.
They tend to mostly impact those aged 20-50. However, they can also occur in children and the elderly. Whichever type of kidney stone you develop, they can be particularly painful to pass.
As you can see, there are numerous types of kidney stones you can develop in your lifetime. Understanding which type you have will determine the best treatment option. While most should pass by themselves, you may need additional treatment depending upon the size and severity of the stones.