What Are The Causes Of And Treatments For Kidney Stones?

Here’s what the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has to say about this condition: “Kidney stones are one of the most painful disorders to afflict humans.” Unfortunately, this sometimes excruciating ailment is one of the more common urinary tract problems.

A kidney stone may be smaller than a grain of sand or bigger than a marble. They are formed from the crystallization of different substances found in the urine. Calcium is a common ingredient in kidney stones.

We often don’t know what causes kidney stones or why some people seem predisposed to get them. They tend to run in families, but you can get them without a family history. People with gout, recurrent urinary tract infections and certain other conditions have a higher risk of developing kidney stones. Taking excessive vitamin D can also cause them. Some medications, including long-term use of calcium-based antacids, may raise the risk of having a kidney stone. They’re also more common in warmer climates.

Although the degree of pain would lead you to think otherwise, most kidney stones don’t need medical treatment because they will pass out of the urinary tract by themselves. Patients are advised to take pain medication when needed and drink massive amounts of water — two to three quarts per day, to help flush out the stone.

In cases where the stone is very large or doesn’t pass easily, surgical removal may be necessary. These days, the most frequently used surgical treatment is one that doesn’t require any cutting. Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy sends sound waves to smash the kidney stone into tiny pieces that, hopefully, can then pass somewhat more easily through the urinary tract.

Lithotripsy and other surgical treatments are far from perfect treatments, which is why doctors place a premium on prevention. People who have had kidney stones once have a fairly high likelihood of having them again. To plot out a preventive course of action, some medical detective work is often necessary to try to pinpoint the cause of previous stones. Lab tests and questions about medical history and lifestyle factors usually help provide clues.

Depending on the individual’s situation and lab results, various dietary changes may be recommended. Almost universally, though, kidney stone patients are advised to permanently increase their water intake and consequently, their urine production. Medication that can help keep stones from forming may be prescribed under appropriate circumstances.

The information provided on Health Search Online is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.