HealthWACH: Preventing kidney stones


Chances are you or someone you know has had a kidney stone at some point in their life. They are very common, affecting about one in ten people throughout their lifetime. Kidney stones are small, hard deposits, that form inside the kidneys. Because urine excretes waste, it is comprised of numerous wastes and chemicals (like calcium, urate, oxalate, cysteine, phosphate, and xanthine). Whenever the urine is too concentrated, crystals will begin to form. Then, the crystals can join together and form a larger stone-like solid. Kidney stones have many different causes and they can affect any part of the urinary tract.

Stones form for many reasons. Risk factors can include: not drinking enough liquids, family history of kidney stones, high or low intake of certain foods, abnormal urine system, and metabolic problems. If you do develop a stone, you could have one or more of these symptoms: nausea and vomiting, urge to pass urine often, blood in the urine, trouble passing urine, back pain that moves to the groin, and sharp pain in the back that comes and goes.

There are more than 50 types of kidney stones, but the most common includes:

  • Calcium Oxalate is the most common type of stone. Itâ??s found in 70 percent of cases. These stones vary in shape and size.

  • Uric Acid is found in about ten percent of all cases. A high amount of uric acid in the urine can lead to these types of stones. Those who have gout are at an increased risk for this type of stone and they are hard to identify on standard x-rays.

  • Struvite is found in about nine percent of all stones. They are made of magnesium and ammonium phosphate. Infections in the urinary system can cause this type of stone.

  • Calcium Phosphate makes up about nine percent of stones.

Cystine can be found in two percent of all stones, which is a by-product of the amino acid, cysteine. People who form these stones have a genetic trait that causes a high cysteine level in the urine. They look like brown sugar.