What to Know about Kidney Stones

About 9% of the population, or 1 in 11 people, will get kidney stones at some point in their lifetime. Kidney stones can be painful and difficult to pass. But what are they exactly?

There are 4 main types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium stones

These kidney stones are the most common. Made out of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate, calcium stones can be caused by a number of factors including a diet high in oxalate (spinach, beets, chocolate, nuts), high doses of vitamin D, or some metabolic disorders.

2. Struvite stones 

Struvite stones can be caused by kidney infections and urinary tract infections. These kidney stones have been known to grow large and are often present with infection symptoms.

3. Uric acid stones

Uric acid stones are caused by a lack of fluids, too much animal protein, or genetic factors.

4. Cystine stones

Cystine stones are created from a genetic disorder that causes cystine to leak through the kidneys into the urine, forming crystals that make up the kidney stones.

Even though kidney stones are caused by different factors, they all share similar symptoms. It’s important to recognize the symptoms so you can visit the doctor and treat them while it’s still early.

Kidney stones symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the side, back, abdomen, or groin

  • Painful, discolored, or foul-smelling urine

  • Frequent urination

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)

  • Nausea or vomiting with back pain

While there are no guarantees, there are many things you can do to help prevent the formation of kidney stones. These strategies include:

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. There are various recommendations for how much water each individual needs, so do your research and know your body’s signals.

Eat a balanced diet

Avoid eating too many foods high in oxalate, which include spinach, beets, chocolate, and nuts. Also, a high-protein diet can create too much uric acid, so limit your intake of beef, eggs, and fish. Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can decrease your risk of kidney stones as well.

Medication and supplements

Some medications and supplements, like antibiotics and calcium supplements, can help prevent kidney stones, but try to use these options as a last resort.

Passing kidney stones can be a painful process. Luckily, there are many treatment options, including medication and/or surgery, which can treat kidney stones in a safe an effective manner. However, it’s best to practice the prevention strategies to avoid kidney stones altogether.

To schedule an appointment with our urologist, call RAMC at 608-524-6487 or visit our urology page.

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