Every year, 1 in 10 people in the UK is affected by kidney stones in some way. However, not many people understand what kidney stones are, how they form, and the risk factors associated with them.

This blog post will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the different types of kidney stones, what causes them, the symptoms to look out for, and the potential health risks. Additionally, we’ll give you a recommendation for what to do if you think you might have kidney stones.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when waste products in the urine combine and crystallise within the kidneys. This tends to happen when there are too many waste products and not enough liquid to purge them. Waste products that can form kidney stones include calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.

The resulting matter can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Some people form just one stone, while others develop multiple stones at once. Once it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter.

Different types of kidney stones

There are several different types of kidney stones.

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone. A calcium oxalate stone is usually caused by high levels of calcium in the urine.

Uric acid stones are formed when urine contains too much uric acid. This type of kidney stone is quite common in people with gout.

Struvite stones are associated with urinary tract infections, while cystine stones are a result of an inherited condition called cystinuria.

What are the risk factors for kidney stones?

There are several risk factors that put you at risk of developing kidney stones, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Obesity
  • A diet high in sodium and protein
  • Having a family history of kidney stones
  • Having a medical condition that raises the levels of certain substances in your urine.

If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Symptoms of kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Intense pain in the back, sides, or lower abdomen
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The severity of the symptoms depends on the size, type, and location of the kidney stone, but, in general, the pain is a clear indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Damage that kidney stones can do to your health

Kidney stones can cause severe pain, but they can also cause kidney damage if not addressed.

Having kidney stones increases the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. What’s more, if you have a kidney stone, you’re more likely to get another one in the future. Recurrent kidney stones can cause large amounts of pain.

How are kidney stones treated?

The most common treatment for kidney stones involves increasing hydration and trying to let the stone pass without surgery or intervention. Medication may also be used to decrease the acidity of the urine. However, if the stone blocks the flow of urine or if there is an infection, the stone will need to be removed.

Most kidney stones are treated with non-invasive procedures like shock-wave lithotripsy, which uses sound waves to break the stone apart. After removal, the stone may be examined to determine what caused it so that preventative measures can be put in place. For instance, if the surgeon finds that you have calcium stones, they may recommend lowering the amount of calcium you ingest on a daily basis.

Final thoughts

Kidney stones can be incredibly painful and can cause long-term health problems if left untreated.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of kidney stones, you can use Better2Know’s Uric Acid, Gout and Kidney Stones Home Test. This test will measure levels of uric acid in your blood, which can determine if there are any issues you may need to address.

If you’re not sure which home test is right for you, call the number above to speak to a member of our team.

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