Since last many years the prevalence of kidney stones has increased and each year more than a million people are diagnosed with it. It is one of the common problems of the urinary system. Kidney stones are defined as hard stones that are formed in the kidney when urine has high levels of salt and minerals.
What are kidneys and how do they function?
Most people have two kidneys located just below the rib cage behind the spine. Healthy kidneys are responsible for cleaning waste from the blood in the form of urine. It allows the body to keep functioning normally by keeping the composition of the blood stable. Kidneys help to prevent the build-up of waste and extra fluid in the body.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. Using the body waste and extra fluid kidneys from the urine which travels ureters into the bladder and later leaves the body through the urethra.
How is a kidney stone caused?
Urine consists of many high level of minerals and salts that could lead to the development of kidney stones. Many times, these kidney stones travel down the ureter and reach the bladder where it can be passed out in the urine. But sometimes, these stones stay in the kidneys that can grow larger in size filling the inner hollow structure in the kidney. Some kidney stones do not cause any problems, while some start to cause problems.
Many times patients remain unaware that they have kidney stones until it blocks the ureter and causes severe pain. Lodged stone blocks the flow of urine in the kidneys and causes pain. A kidney stone is accompanied by various symptoms such as:
- Sharp and cramping pain in the back and side
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in the urine
What are the types of kidney stones?
Kidney stones can be different types depending on the type of stone you have. Some of the types include:
- Calcium Stone – It is the most common type of kidney stone and most often it occurs when the composition of calcium in the blood becomes too high. Many times normal calcium levels could also cause stone due to some other health problems.
- Uric Acid Stone – It is a type which occurs when the urine has a high level of acid. It does not dissolve, resulting in kidney stones. Factors like obesity and high blood glucose level contribute to this type of kidney stone.
- Struvite Stone – This type of stone is formed in patients having chronic urinary tract infection and it occurs when the body forms less acidic and more alkaline urine. These type of stones grow very fast.
- Cystine Stone – Cystine is an amino acid and high level of this amino acid in the urine could lead to the occurrence of stone. It is a rare type of kidney stone because having a high amount of cystine is rare.
What are the common risk factors for kidney stones?
There are various factors that could lead to the development of stones in the kidney and some of the common factors include:
A kidney stone is considered to be a common complication of dehydration. Dehydration is defined as a condition which occurs when the amount of fluid in the body becomes too low. In simple terms, it is a condition which occurs when the body does not have enough fluid to fulfill the needs.
Lack of water in the body leads to low urine volume which indicates that there is less urine or fluid to keep salt dissolved. Increasing the intake of fluid is often the first thing recommended to patients with kidney stones and this is because the extra fluid in the body allows the salt to get diluted in the urine.
2. High body mass index
Body mass index is defined as a tool which is often used to measure the body fat depending on the weight and height. High body mass index indicates the presence of extra fat in the body which causes obesity. Obesity is a disorder which is characterized by the accumulation of excess fat in the body to an extent that it leads to ill health.
Obesity is considered to highly contribute to the occurrence of uric acid stone and one of the explanations to this is that obesity increases acid levels in the urine which can result in the formation of uric acid stone.
3. High sodium diet
People who consume food that contains high sodium content are at the risk of developing kidney stones. Salt is the most common form of sodium that we people consumes. Many times we have heard doctors saying that limiting the consumption of salt is important to maintain a healthy body.
High salt or high sodium diet can trigger the symptoms of kidney stones as it causes an increase in the amount of calcium in urine which is a risk factor for the occurrence of calcium stones in the kidneys
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