What Causes Kidney Stones? Understanding Its Causes and Symptoms

Most of us probably don’t realize how significant our kidneys are and their specific functions in the body. When a person suffers from kidney stones, there’s a good chance that person would experience extreme pain at the lower part of the abdomen. Not only that, that person would have to incur absences from work, or that the person’s week would be ruined. Suffering from kidney stones is a painful ordeal, and it’s especially difficult to go about the day with normal activities. Kidney stones are considered one of the most common diseases that affect the urinary tract. The disease is also reported to affect more than a million individuals each year.

abdominal pain

Anyone suffering from kidney stones would say it is unpleasant and agonizing to go through and would prefer the condition to be treated as soon as possible. Leaving it untreated can lead to more complications and often damage the kidneys altogether.


Kidney Stones – What is it?

Our kidneys are described as bean-shaped organs similar to the size of our fist that’s located in the center of our back that’s right below the rib cage. What makes them a vital part in our body is its ability to flush out waste, urine and excess fluids that are not required in the body. Our kidneys are attached to our urinary tract, which includes the bladder, urethra and a pair of ureters.




Our kidneys clean through our blood supply and produce one part urine which then gets excreted through a tube called urethra.

Kidney stones are tiny and solid deposits that build up over a period of time inside of the kidneys that are produced from the materials that are naturally present inside our body. Over time, these kidney stones would clog up the normal passage of urine which then causes a swelling in the bladder. Eventually, the urine that could not be excreted becomes too dense with minerals as they build up making it extremely painful to urinate.

Typically, kidney stones don’t usually leave behind damage that is permanent to the kidneys once it is treated. However, if they are left untreated, it can lead to severe cases including kidney damage which is deemed a life-threatening ailment that needs medical surgery.


What are the signs and symptoms that indicate kidney stones?

When we are affected by kidney stones, the clear indication is a throbbing and uncomfortable pain felt around the abdomen when trying to urinate. The pain would usually vary in its intensity, and it can last between five to fifteen minutes. However, there are also other symptoms that signify kidney stones.


These symptoms include:

–    An intense pain in the lower back that shoots down towards the areas around the kidneys like the groin and in between our thighs.

–    There is apparent discoloration of the urine, often appearing brown or pinkish

–    Urine appears cloudy, and it would have a foul smell

–    Persistent need to urinate more, with very little urine that would pass out

–    Chills or fever as the problem becomes worse

–    Indigestion, accompanied by nausea and vomiting when there is intense pain felt


What are the common types of kidney stones?

Kidney stones are often characterized as mineral deposit build up in the kidney causing difficulty and pain to urinate. However, not all kidney stones condition consist of the same type of minerals or crystals. The different types of kidney stones include:


–    Uric acid

This type of kidney stones is more common in males than females. This type of kidney stones would usually develop when a person has gout or has undergone chemotherapy. It develops when the urine becomes excessively acidic. The excess acids would eventually crystallize and clog the normal urine flow.


–    Calcium stones

Calcium stones are also one of the most common types of kidney stones. It occurs when there is too much calcium oxalate in the urine and would eventually form crystals. Foods that are high in calcium oxalate are usually responsible for causing the crystals to accumulate. These types of foods include chocolate, peanuts, potato chips, spinach, and beets.


–    Cystine and Struvite stones

Struvite stones are more common in women with UTI or Urinary Tract Infection. These type of stones are usually large in size and can cause obstruction of urine excretion as a result of kidney infection. Meanwhile, the rarest type of stones is cysteine. This usually occurs in both male and females with a genetic disorder known as cystinuria.


Who are at risk of developing kidney stones?

When a person urinates less than one liter per day, it is considered a great risk factor. Kidney stones can happen to premature infants especially inflicted with problems in the kidneys. However, kidney stones happen more likely to individuals between the age of 20 to 50.


There are several factors that can escalate a person’s risk of developing kidney stones. It is reported that Caucasians develop this condition more than a person with African descent. Gender also plays a role in contributing to the development of kidney stones. According to research, men are more likely to develop the condition than women.


Even your family history can increase the chances of developing the condition as well.


Other factors also include:


–    Weight gain or obesity



–    Constant dehydration

drinking water


–    Consuming foods that are high in glucose, protein, and salt



–    Have undergone a bypass surgery



–    Suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases which likely increases absorption of calcium

stomach pain

As mentioned, having kidney stones does not leave long-lasting damage to the kidneys once the symptoms are detected and treated early. Fortunately, modern medicine now has drugs available to treat the problem and reduce the symptoms. Alternatively, there are natural treatments to relieve the symptoms and preventive measures like:


–    Drinking plenty of water a day to be able to pass more than one liter of urine per day

drinking plenty of water


–    Change of diet, lessen the intake of foods with salt, protein, and glucose and eat more food rich in nutrient

healthy meal


–    Exercising regularly



–    Using castor oil packs or hot compress



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Relieving the symptoms of kidney stones is something relatively easy to do. Taking care of yourself and making sure to have a healthy diet and drinking lots of water are just some of the sensible things to do to avoid suffering from this unpleasant health condition.

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