What causes kidney stones?
Kidney stones form when the components of urine - fluid and various minerals and acids - are out of balance. When urine becomes too concentrated or does not contain substance that keep minerals apart, minerals may crystallize, stick together and solidify. The result is a kidney stone.
Problems in the way your system absorbs and eliminates calcium and other substances create the conditions for kidney stones to form. And kidney stones are specifically prone to develop in highly acidic or highly alkaline urine. Sometimes, the underlying cause is an inherited metabolic disorder or kidney disease. Or, sometimes other medical conditions (gout, IBS, etc.) can cause a kidney stone. So do some types of drugs, or medications.
It's common that kidney stones have no definite, single cause. A number of factors, often in combination, create the conditions for people to develop kidney stones. Most kidney stones contain crystals of more than one type. Determining the type that makes up the bulk of the stone - usually a combination of calcium compounds - helps identify the underlying cause.
No one knows why mineral deposits form kidney stones in some people but not in others. Stone formation may be related to the levels of these substances in urine or to other currently unknown factors that encourage or inhibit stone formation. However, researchers have found men are more prone to stones than women. Age may also be a factor that contributes to the risk of developing a kidney stone. The factors that may increase your risk of developing kidney stones include:
Age - The chance of experiencing a kidney stone rises as men enter their 40s and continues to rise into their 70s. For women, the risk peaks in their 50s.
Diet - A high-protein, high-sodium and low-calcium diet may increase risk of developing some types of kidney stones.
Ethnicity - Kidney stones are more frequently diagnosed in Caucasians than in African Americans.
Family or personal history - If someone in your family has kidney stones, you're more likely to develop stones too. And if you've already had one or more kidney stones, you're at increased risk of developing another.
Gender - Men are more likely to develop kidney stones than are women.
Lack of fluids - If you don't drink enough fluids, especially water, your urine is likely to have higher concentrations of substances that can form stones. That's also why you're more likely to form kidney stones if you live in a hot, dry climate or exercise strenuously without replacing lost fluids.
Lifestyle - People who are bedridden, have limited activity or very sedentary for a long period of time can cause your bones to release more calcium and may result in kidney stone development.
Other medical conditions - High body mass index (BMI), increased waist size and weight gain have been linked to kidney stones. High blood pressure doubles your risk of forming kidney stones. Gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea may also be linked to kidney stones, as changes in the digestive process affect absorption of calcium and increase levels of stone-forming substances in urine.
Do you know how to identify the symptoms of kidney stones? While some of the symptoms of kidney stone are well known, such as extreme pain in the back or side flank, there are additional symptoms to look for. Continue reading the Kidney Stones Symptoms section for more information about signs and symptoms of kidney stones.
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