What Causes Kidney Stones

Passing a kidney stone has been compared to giving birth, in that it is one of the most painful experiences a person can endure, but what causes them? There is no singular cause, but rather a combination of multiple factors that may lead to the development of kidney stones. This is, in part, because there are several different kinds of kidney stones.

Calcium stones are the most common, and these are a formation of calcium oxalate. Calcium, of course, is found in milk and a number of other food products. Oxalate is found in a variety of foods including nuts, chocolate, and even some fruits and vegetables. Both are good for the body in moderation, and the liver even produces oxalate on its own. However, build up too high a concentration, and the calcium and oxalate will combine in the kidney, forming the common calcium stones that can be so very painful.

Struvite stones can form as the result of an infection, usually a urinary tract infection. These are possibly the most painful of all kidney stones, as they can grow to be very large. Sometimes they grow so large that they cannot be passed and must be surgically removed.

Uric acid stones occur when the body experiences an excessive build-up of uric acid and forms urate crystals. Sometimes, these urate crystals will gather in the joints and cause gout, but accumulation in the urinary tract will eventually find them in the kidney where they will join together and form stones. Dehydration and excessive protein in the diet can also lead to the development of these particular stones.

Cystine stones are very rare, and only develop in individuals with a hereditary disorder known as cystinuria. This disorder causes the kidney to work over time in the excretion of amino acids, and these amino acids form cystine stones. There are still more variations of kidney stones, but these are far more rare and there is less known about how they develop.

The common factor in the formation of all kidney stones is an imbalance in the levels of urinary fluids verses crystal forming minerals. Too many minerals and too few fluids to filter them out of the body with, and crystals start developing and forming into stones. Therefore, anything that leads to lower fluid levels or a higher concentration of the crystal forming minerals could potentially lead to the development of kidney stones.

From this knowledge, we can derive that imbalanced diet and dehydration will be the most probable factors contributing to the development of kidney stones. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids if one wants to avoid this painful condition. There are, however, other contributing factors. Males, for instance, are far more likely to develop stones than females, adults more than children, and anyone with a family medical history of kidney stones.

Obesity can also contribute, as a higher body mass index can slow dietary functions and cause a build-up of minerals and toxins within the body. Any digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, gluten intolerance, diabetes, or hypoglycemia could also leave an individual more susceptible to the development of kidney stones. The key then to avoiding the formation of kidney stones is maintaining a healthy digestive system.