Renal Calculi

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Info & Treatments for Kidney Stones & Kidney Disease

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Kidney stones or renal calculi are mineral objects that form in the urinary tract, frequently inside the kidney. Normally composed of a chemical compound called calcium oxalate, kidney stones form from dissolved minerals on the kidneys' inner lining. (Although calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common type, other minerals may also form kidney stones and different preventive regimens may be called for depending on the chemical composition of the stones that the body is forming.) Once a kidney stone is formed, it can grow by causing molecules of the dissolved mineral to attach themselves to the stone, producing a larger stone. Most kidney stones pass through the urinary tract and out of the body before growing to very large size, but if a stone lodges in the kidney or elsewhere in the urinary tract it can grow up to an inch or more in diameter. Larger kidney stones require medical treatment to assist in removing them from the body.

Kidney stones can be extremely painful as they pass through the body. If they become large enough that the body cannot pass them normally, various medical procedures may be required to help remove them. This ranges from the use of sonic pulses or lasers to break the stone into smaller fragments (lithotripsy), to more or less invasive surgical procedures to remove very large kidney stones from the body. Kidney stones can also cause long-term damage to the kidneys resulting potentially in quite serious problems. For that reason, kidney stones should not be taken lightly.


The most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration. Dehydration causes bodily fluids to be more concentrated with minerals and increases the rate at which minerals precipitate into solids, and is caused simply by not drinking enough water. Continued below....

One effect of dehydration is the increased concentration of uric acid in urine, which increases its acidity; more highly acid urine increases the precipitation of kidney stones.

Other Medical Causes

Another cause of kidney stones is a side effect of certain urinary tract infections. Kidney stones can result from some medications, including opiramate, which is often prescribed for migraine headaches and seizure disorders. They are twice as common among males as females, and most kidney stones occur in patients between the ages of 30 and 50. People with a family history of kidney stones are more likely to develop them as well. Also, if you have had kidney stones before, your chances of them developing again increases.

Lifestyle Factors

Obesity is a factor for increased occurrence of kidney stones. High blood pressure is also a factor. Any condition that impacts the absorption of calcium by the body, such as inflammatory bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery, or chronic diarrhea (the last of which also tends to increase dehydration) can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Kidney stones can also be a complication of gout.

The climate where you live can be a factor in the occurrence of dehydration and therefore in the risk of developing kidney stones. You are more likely to become dehydrated and therefore at greater risk for kidney stones if you live in a hot, dry climate. Also, although exercise is definitely recommended for good health generally and for weight control in particular, exercise does increase water loss through perspiration and extra water intake is advised during or after exercise to replace water lost as a result of your workout.

Dietary Factors

Besides not drinking enough water, mineral balance in the diet plays a role in formation of kidney stones. Depending on the chemical composition of the stones being formed, reduction of intake of sodium, calcium, protein, oxalate, or potassium, or some combination of these, may help in reducing the occurrence of kidney stones; high amounts of these in the diet on the other hand may increase the risk of kidney stones and may have other health consequences as well.

Some vitamin and mineral supplements may also increase the risk of kidney stones. These can include vitamin C, vitamin D, fish liver oils, and (of course) mineral supplements, especially those containing calcium. Your doctor may recommend discontinuation of some of these supplements if you are suffering from kidney stones.

Prevention Of Kidney Stones

The best advice for prevention of kidney stones is generally a common-sense reversal of all of the risk factors. Be sure to drink plenty of water -- ten to twelve cups of liquid are recommended per day. Much of the standing advice provided on maintaining good health through diet and exercise can also help reduce the risk of kidney stones, as many of the negative indicators -- obesity, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise -- for good health in general also increase the risk of kidney stones. Dietary adjustment or discontinuation of certain dietary supplements may be recommended depending on the type of kidney stone you are tending to develop.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Most Common Medical Treatments for Kidney Stones

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