Kidney stones are solid masses or crystals that develop in the kidney or anywhere in the urinary tract, and over half a million people end up in emergency rooms for treatment. This painful condition can be caused by different things, and the type of kidney stone someone gets will vary depending on the cause.
Dr. Craig Herman, Dr. Steven Kester and the Urology Center of Florida offer decades of expertise in treating kidney stones and other urological needs.
Kidney stones, the hard deposits of minerals and salts that form in your kidneys, is caused when a person’s urine contains more calcium, oxalate and uric acid than it is capable of diluting. When the liquid in the urine has too much of the minerals and other materials, crystals begin to form and create kidney stones. Since not all of these are made of the same materials, different types of kidney stones can form. These include:
Calcium stones are the most common, in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a natural chemical found in plants, foods and humans (made in the liver). It normally passes through the body, but when too much of the chemical is in the urine, it combines with the calcium to form kidney stones.
When the uric acid levels in the urine are too high or too acidic (having a ph level below 5.5) on a regular basis, uric acid stones can form. The high acidity in urine can be caused by:
- Inherited traits in how the body processes uric acid
- A high purine diet (a diet high in beef, poultry, pork, liver and fish)
- Side effects of chemotherapy treatments
This mineral is formed by bacteria in the urinary tract, and forms when combining with things like calcium and phosphate. A type of kidney stone that’s more common in women, these stones can grow quickly and cause damage to the kidney as well as the pain associated with kidney stones. At their worst, they can grow quickly enough to cause blockage in the kidney, ureter or bladder.
The chemical cystine is an amino acid that is commonly associated with a condition called cystinuria, which is an inherited disease that causes stones to form in the bladder ureter and kidneys. This type of disease is a gene defect that is passed down by both parents. With this condition, cystine builds up and forms stones instead of being processed through the bloodstream. It can be very painful until the stones pass and in worst cases with large stones, surgery may be necessary.
Many things contribute to getting kidney stones, including diet, dehydration, obesity, digestive diseases, certain surgeries and medical conditions and some supplements and medications. Family history can play a role as well, especially in cystine kidney stones.
Treatment will depend on the size of the stone, and the severity of the pain. Many people pass smaller stones with no medical treatment but without changes in diet (lower protein, salt and monitoring calcium intake in some cases) kidney stones may come back. Ultrasound can be used to break up larger stones and medications are available. Specific treatments will vary depending on need.
So if you think you’re dealing with kidney stones, make an appointment with Dr. Herman, Dr. Kester and the Urology Center of Florida to get the treatment that’s best for you.