For the past several decades common thinking was that kidney stones usually develops in males who are middle-aged, obese. It was attributed to men who follow an unhealthy diet and take less water. The books taught us the same but with the recent studies we may need to rewrite and rethink regarding stones. A recent study done in US suggest that the overall incidence of kidney stones is going up and also mentioned that children and women who were not considered high risk before are now forming more stones
Why do we form kidney stones?
Kidney stones develop due to crystallization (akin to Mishri/Rock Sugar) of certain chemicals in the urine(most commonly calcium oxalate,phosphate or uric acid. Small crystals can pass from your body through the urine without you ever knowing about them. When the crystals grow larger and become stones, they can get stuck in the ureter and block the flow of urine. This causes infection and pain.
What Are the Risk factors for stone formation?
Risk factors are:
- Diet : typical western diet including high intake of animal protein, sodium, and sugar.
- Chronic dehydration, low intake of fluids
- Health Issues like gout, diabetes, obesity, Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) or intestinal bypass(Bariatric Surgery or ostomy surgery)
- Family history: kidney stones can run in families (incidence increases with number of effected close relatives. Some rare disorders can cause kidney stones. Some of those disorders are:
- Renal tubular acidosis, sometimes a hereditary disease
- Cystinuria (crystals of cystine form)
- Hyperoxaluria (crystals of oxalate form)
- Absorptive hypercalciuria (the body takes in too much calcium from food)
- Medications: calcium supplements, Protein supplements, diuretics or calcium-based antacids
Doc why should I bother regarding stones?
I will suggest just ask someone who had a recent episode of ureteric colic. Believe me it’s akin to labor pain !!!
Seldom will you find that kidney stones are discovered incidentally and pass on their own, never causing symptoms or needing treatment. By and large they become stuck (usually at vesicoureteric junction) leading to pain, blood in urine or infection.