by Dr Alison Kamffer
After gall stones, the next most common stones formed by your body are kidney stones. These are usually in the kidney, but can also occur in the bladder.
They are most commonly made of calcium oxalate, phosphate, or maleate.
The next most common type is Uric Acid stones, more common in men than in women. They often occur in people with gout or those going through chemotherapy.
Struvite stones are found mostly in women with urinary tract infections. These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.
Cysteine stones are rare, and occur in people who have a genetic disorder called cystinuria. With this type of stone, cysteine — an acid that occurs naturally in the body — leaks from the kidneys into the urine.
So who gets kidney stones?
Kidney stones are most likely to occur between the ages of 20 and 40, and the greatest risk factor for forming stones is making less than one liter of urine per day, so dehydration plays a large role. As there are different kinds of stone, so different factors can affect your risk of developing one. Typically, Caucasians are more likely to have kidney stones than Africans, and men more likely than women. A family history of kidney stones can increase your risk.
Other risk factors include:
Obesity, high-protein, -salt, or carbohydrate diet, hyperparathyroidism, gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel diseases that increase calcium absorption, calcium supplements, especially if there is also magnesium deficiency [but interestingly, not a high intake of natural calcium in the diet] and medications such as some diuretics that increase the uric acid level, anti-seizure drugs, and calcium-based antacids.
What are the symptoms?
Kidney stones are usually very painful. The pain is colicky, i.e. comes in waves, usually originates in the back or flank, and may radiate to the lower abdomen or groin. It can be nauseating, and cause sweating, chills, and discomfort with passing urine. This is often because there is a secondary infection due to the blockage cause by the stone. There may be visible blood in the urine, but there is almost always detectable blood on urine testing.
To diagnose kidney stones, your Dr will 1st hear your symptoms, and examine your abdomen.
You will have to pass some urine for dipstick testing. If necessary the next step will be an ultrasound examination of your kidneys to detect the stone. If it doesn’t pass with the help of plenty of fluid, then further specialist treatment will be needed.
Next week we can see how to prevent these painful stones in the body!
Written by SureSlim Dr Ali.