Renal lithiasis, or kidney stones, are small and hard deposits made of acid and mineral salts that are formed inside your kidneys. They can affect any part of a person’s urinary tract, from your kidney, urethra to your bladder. If you have kidney stones, then you’re most likely in a lot of pain, especially if you’re passing them, that’s why it is very important to know what causes them, so you know how to avoid being at risk of developing kidney stones. So what causes kidney stones? Read on and find out.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
You can have kidney stones and not know you have them. The moment a kidney stone starts to make itself felt is the moment it starts moving inside your kidneys or enters your ureter (which is the channel that connects your kidneys to your bladder). When the kidney stones enter the ureter or start moving in your kidneys, then you will be experiencing some or all of these symptoms: severe pain below the ribs and in the side and back, pain that comes in waves, pain that fluctuates in intensity, pain that spread to the groin and lower abdomen, pain while urinating, pink, brown or red urine, vomiting or nausea, urge to urinate more often than usual, fever and chills (this happens if your kidney stones are giving you an infection). Also, if your pain seems to move around and/or increase in intensity, it is usually because the kidney stone moves.
When You Should See a Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you should make an appointment with your physician immediately:
- Severe pain. If you are experiencing pain that doesn’t allow you to sit in a comfortable position, then it’s time to see a doctor.
- Pain and nausea. Sometimes pain can be so debilitating, that it causes nausea and even vomiting.
- Pain and chills. If your pain is so intense that you’re experiencing fever and chills, then go see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Difficulty Urinating. If you have trouble urinating or you’re experiencing pain while urinating, then most likely you have kidney stones. You should get yourself checked out to confirm the diagnosis.
- Blood in urine. If you’ve noticed any blood in your urine, then this might be a sign you have kidney stones.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Medicine today cannot give a concrete answer to this question. It is not yet known what exactly causes kidney stones, but there are several factors that do increase your risk of developing them.
The fluid in your urine can dilute the substances that form crystals that would turn into kidney stones, but when the fluid stops doing that due to various reasons, you get kidney stones. Depending on the type of kidney stones, you can determine what caused it.
The vast majority of kidney stones are calcium stones that are formed out of calcium oxalate. We can find oxalate in food, but you should now that our liver also produces this substance. High doses of vitamin D can increase your body’s levels of calcium oxalate as well as severe metabolic disorders or intestinal bypass surgery.
If your kidney stones are struvite stones then they were formed inside your kidneys as a result of an infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). When this is the case, struvite stones can grow quickly and can reach dangerous sizes without much previous warning. Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men are.
Uric acid kidney stones happen in people who don’t drink enough water or those who lose too much fluid sweating. Those who eat a high-protein diet, consume too much sodium and sugar or have gout also are at risk of developing uric acid stones.
If you’ve got cystinuria, which is a hereditary disorder that makes the kidneys excrete too many amino acids then you are likely to develop cysteine kidney stones.
What to Do to Avoid Getting Kidney Stones?
As mentioned earlier, more often than not, there is no definite cause of kidney stones, but there some things you can do to decrease your risk of developing kidney stones.
Firstly, if you are a man, then you’re more likely to develop kidney stones than a woman is. It is not yet known why this is the case. Also, children are less likely to get kidney stones than adults.
Secondly, it is known that prolonged dehydration will increase your risk of kidney stones. Drink plenty of water, aside from helping your kidneys, it also does wonders for your skin and general health. If you live in warmer climates or you sweat a lot, you’re also at risk of developing kidney stones. Drink water!
Thirdly, certain diets that are high in protein, sugar and sodium will increase your risk of certain types of kidney stones, so be careful! A high sodium diet increases the amount of calcium that gets accumulated in your kidneys and puts you at a high risk of developing kidney stones.
Fourthly, obesity also puts you at a high risk of getting kidney stones. Make sure your BMI is in the normal range, to avoid kidney stones and other health related issues.
Lastly, if you’ve got family that has had a history of kidney stones, then you might also be at risk. If this is the case, then you should take care of yourself, drink lots of water, avoid having an increased BMI and diets high in protein and sodium. Also, if having regular checkups will correctly assess your health situation and it will help you avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.