Kidney stones are mineral and acid salt deposits that clump together in concentrated urine. They can cause discomfort when moving through the urinary tract, but they rarely cause long-term damage. A kidney stone can sometimes pass through the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney with the bladder. If the stone reaches the bladder, it can be transported through the urine and out of the body. If a stone becomes trapped in the ureter, it causes pain by blocking urine flow from that kidney.
Kidney stones form when dissolved minerals build up on the inner lining of the kidneys. They are usually made up of calcium oxalate, although they can also be made up of a variety of other chemicals. These stones can grow up to the size of a golf ball while keeping a sharp, crystalline structure. The stones may be small and go unnoticed while they transit through the urinary tract, but once they exit the body, they can cause intense pain.
A kidney stone is usually asymptomatic until it enters the ureter. When kidney stones appear, the following symptoms are common: –
- Severe, sharp pain in the side and back, below the ribs;
- Blood in urine;
- Vomiting and nausea;
- White blood cells or pus in the urine;
- Reduced amount of urine excreted;
- Burning sensation during urination;
- Persistent urge to urinate;
- Fever and chills if there is an infection;
- Urinating more often or a burning feeling during urination;
- Urine that is dark or red due to blood. Sometimes urine has only small amounts of red blood cells that can’t be seen with the naked eye; and
- For men, you may feel pain at the tip of the penis.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs and symptoms that worry you.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience: –
- Pain so severe that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position;
- Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting;
- Pain accompanied by fever and chills;
- Blood in your urine;
- Difficulty in passing urine.
The common causes of these stones are as follows: –
- A shortage of water in the body is the most common cause of kidney stones.
- Individuals who drink less than the recommended eight to ten glasses of water each day are more likely to develop stones.
- The urine gets more acidic when there isn’t enough water to dilute the uric acid, a component of urine.
- Kidney stones can occur as a result of an extremely acidic urine environment.
- These stones are more likely in people with Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, and Dent’s disease.
Types of kidney stones include: –
- Calcium Stones: – Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a substance made daily by your liver or absorbed from your diet. Certain fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate content. Calcium Stones may also occur in the form of calcium phosphate. This type of stone is more common in metabolic conditions, such as renal tubular acidosis.
- Struvite Stones: – Struvite stones form in response to a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, sometimes with few symptoms or little warning.
- Uric Acid Stones: – Uric acid stones can form in people who lose too much fluid because of chronic diarrhea or malabsorption, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.
- Cystine Stones: – These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder called cystinuria that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of specific amino acid.