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What Causes Kidney Stones?


What Causes Kidney Stones?
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

What Causes Kidney Stones? – Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and More

What causes kidney stones? Well, before jumping on the causes, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what it is and how it could happen. Kidney stones are hard deposits made of salts and minerals that are shaped inside the kidneys. 

Various causes may lead a person to this condition. The most common causes include medications, supplements, medical conditions, and obesity. Kidney stones pressure anywhere inside your urinary tract, from the kidneys to the bladder. 

The stones commonly form when the urine starts concentrating so minerals stick together like crystals. Flushing kidney stones is often agonizing. However, the stones cause no damage as long as they are being recognized earlier. 

Depending on the severity, patients may take medications and drink plenty of water so the stones will pass. Meanwhile, surgery may be necessary when the stones are lodged in the urinary tract and cause infections or complications. The doctor will prescribe preventive treatment to prevent the stones to develop in the future.

Symptoms of kidney stones

What causes kidney stones? In this section, we will talk about the symptoms first.

Usually, kidney stones give no symptoms at all until they move around and pass through the ureters. If the stones block the stream in the ureters, your kidney will swell and the ureter will spasm. Both things are painful. 

When the stones have stopped in your ureters, you will feel something sharp below the rib. The pain also radiates to our groin and lower abdomen. Sometimes the pain comes in waves while the intensity gets sharper. Also, it gives a burning sensation and pain while urinating.

Other signs may also develop, especially when the condition didn’t get enough attention. The urine turns pink, red, or even brown. Sometimes the urine smells foul and cloudy. When kidney stones have developed in one’s body, the need to urinate is getting persistent and only in small amounts. 

This condition also leads to nausea, vomiting, and fever, especially if there is an infection inside. The pain caused by the stone might change. They shift places or increase in severity.

Causes of kidney stones

Generally, kidney stones are caused by various factors – they won’t develop due to a single cause. Still, several factors will increase your risk of getting exposed to this condition. The stones are formed when the urine brings substances with crystal in it, such as oxalate, uric acid, and calcium. 

On the other hand, the fluid concentration is extremely low so it cannot dilute the crystals. Meanwhile, the urine is unable to prevent those crystals from joining together, which is a suitable environment to develop stones in the kidney.

Understanding each type of kidney stones

For your information, there are several types of kidney stones. By understanding the types, you can figure out what causes kidney stones. Other than that, each type requires different treatments on reducing the risks.

1. Calcium stones

The most common type of kidney stones is calcium stones. The stone is in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate, on the other hand, is an object generated daily by the liver – your diet is part of the cause. Some types of veggies and fruits along with chocolates and nuts contain a high level of oxalate. Other than that, too high doses of vitamin D would lead to kidney stones as well.

2. Struvite stones

Struvite stones are developed by an infection in the urinary tract. The stones grow pretty quickly and enlarge too. People with this type of kidney stone experienced some symptoms or warnings.

3. Uric acid stones

When a person loses too much fluid due to malabsorption or chronic diarrhea, uric acid stones could form in the future. Other than that, people who take high-protein dietaries are prone to uric acid stones. Some other things that increase the risk of this condition are metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and genetics.

4. Cystine stones

Cystine stones are formed in people with cystinuria – this is a hereditary disorder. The disorder will force kidneys to excrete too much essential amino acids.

Risk factors of kidney stones

Some people are more prone to kidney stones than others. Often, people with a family history of kidney stones will more likely develop this condition too during their lives. Your risk to develop kidney stones is higher, especially if you got one in the past.

It is also essential to drink lots of water since dehydration is another factor that increases your risk. Those who live in dry climates or sweat a lot need more water intake than people who don’t.

At some point, your diet contributes to your health condition, and it also applies to kidney stones. Eating a high-protein diet with tons of salt and sugar could make you eligible to develop the stones. Thus, it is crucial to maintain our daily intake of salt and sugar.

Kidney stones are also prone to people with obesity, specific medical conditions, and surgery for digestive diseases. Taking supplements like vitamin C, excessive laxatives, calcium-based antacids, and other meds for migraines could increase your risk too.

How to prevent kidney stones?

It is always better to prevent instead of taking medication for it. Thus, adopting a healthier lifestyle is necessary.

Drinking enough water throughout the day is the least you can do. For people who have kidney stones in the past, the doctor will recommend at least 2 liters of water per day. Your body needs to urinate while you have to provide plenty of water, so the organs are hydrated.

Dietary changes are needed too. You can limit your consumption of oxalate-rich foods. Those foods include black pepper, chocolate, soy products, nuts, tea, sweet potatoes, spinach, okra, swiss chard, beets, as well as rhubarb.

If you are prone to kidney stones, switching your diet to non-animal protein and low in salt would help a lot. Meanwhile, if you need to use salt in your food, try a substitute like Mrs. Dash instead.

Read also: 

Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits

Oatmeal: Neglected Food with Many Health Benefits


Kidney stones develop in days or even months. What you consume could determine whether or not you are eligible for this condition. Thus, adapting to a balanced lifestyle is necessary. If you feel something wrong inside, feel free to see a doctor. And this is anything you need to know about what causes kidney stones.

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