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Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones, Symptoms and Causes

Kidney Stones Description

Kidney stones are one of the most painful and common disorders of the urinary tract. A kidney stone is a solid mass of crystals that forms from excreted substances in the urine. One or more kidney stones may form simultaneously and remain in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. Kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as golf balls. Smaller stones may pass out of the body without problems or even being noticed but, larger stones can get stuck in a ureter, the bladder or the urethra. This may prevent urine from flowing and cause great pain. Approximately one million people in the United States are treated for kidney stones each year.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stone symptoms may include:

  • Extreme, sharp pain in the back or side that will not go away
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cloudy or odorous urine
  • Frequent urination
  • A burning feeling when you urinate
  • Fever and chills

Prompt medical attention for kidney stones is necessary. Kidney stone symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, do always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Kidney Stone Causes

Kidney stones develop from crystals that separate from urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. However, in some people, stones still form. The different types of kidney stones and their causes are:

  • Calcium stones. The most common type of stones, calcium stones are formed when calcium not used by the body goes to the kidneys. Normally calcium is flushed out with urine, but sometimes it joins with other waste products to form a stone.
  • Struvite stones. A type of stone that contains the mineral magnesium and the waste product ammonia. It may form after an infection in the urinary system.
  • Uric acid stones. They may form when there is too much acid in the urine.
  • Cystine stones. These are a rare form of stones, and the condition, cystinosis, is genetic These consist of cystine, one of the building blocks that make up muscles, nerves and other parts of the body. They can build up in the urine and form a stone.