Kidney stones (also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.
Diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications are among the many causes of kidney stones. Kidney stones can affect any part of your urinary tract ? from your kidneys to your bladder. Often, stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.
Passing kidney stones can be quite painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage if they're recognized in a timely fashion. Depending on your situation, you may need nothing more than to take pain medication and drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances ? for example, if stones become lodged in the urinary tract, are associated with a urinary infection or cause complications ? surgery may be needed.
Your doctor may recommend preventive treatment to reduce your risk of recurrent kidney stones if you're at increased risk of developing them again.
Not all kidney stones are made up of the same crystals. The different types of kidney stones include:
Calcium stones are the most common. They?re often made of calcium oxalate (though they can consist of calcium phosphate or maleate). Eating fewer oxalate-rich foods can reduce your risk of developing this type of stone. High-oxalate foods include:
However, even though some kidney stones are made of calcium, getting enough calcium in your diet can prevent stones from forming.
This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. A diet rich in purines can increase urine?s acidic level. Purine is a colorless substance in animal proteins, such as fish, shellfish, and meats.
This type of stone is found mostly in women with urinary tract infections (UTIs). These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. They result from a kidney infection. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.
Cystine stones are rare. They occur in both men and women who have the genetic disorder cystinuria. With this type of stone, cystine ? an acid that occurs naturally in the body ? leaks from the kidneys into the urine.