Kidney Stones

What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is like a small rock that forms in the kidney.  Stones form when certain chemicals
in the body clump together.  This stone can either stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary

Who gets kidney stones?
Anyone can get a kidney stone, but it may be more likely if you:  
•        Are male
•        Are Caucasian  
•        Are very overweight
•        Have had kidney infections
•        Have a family member with kidney stones
•        Have had kidney stones before
•        Eat a lot of animal protein (such as meat and eggs)
•        Do not drink enough fluids

Some other conditions and medicines can also put you at greater risk for kidney stones.

What are the symptoms?
Very small stones might pass without causing much pain.  Larger stones can block the flow of
urine if they get stuck in the ureters, bladder or urethra.  
Kidney stones do not usually cause any symptoms until they start to pass.  Some symptoms might
•        Extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away
•        Blood in your urine
•        Fever and chills
•        Vomiting

Are there different types of kidney stones?
Yes.  There are four main types of kidney stones.  Each type has a different cause.  Each may need
a different kind of treatment or prevention.  The four types are:

Calcium-Oxalate Stones:  
These are the most common kidney stones.  They can be caused by eating too much calcium or
vitamin D, some medicines, genetics and other kidney problems.  Talk to your doctor about ways to
stop these stones from forming.  Do NOT limit calcium.  

Struvite Stones:  
These stones affect women more than men.  They can grow to be very large and harm the kidneys
more than other stones.  Having kidney infections often may cause struvite stones.

Uric Acid Stones:
These stones may be caused by eating too much animal protein or by genetics.  To stop uric acid
stones, try eating less red meat.

Cystine Stones:  
These stones are very rare.  They are caused by cystinuria, a genetic kidney disease.  Ask your
doctor about what kind of stone you have.

How are kidney stones treated?
Treatment depends on the type and size of the kidney stone.  Drinking plenty of water and taking
some medicines can help a small stone to pass more easily.  For problem stones, there may be a
few options:

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithrotripsy (ESWL) uses shock waves to break a large stone into
smaller pieces that can pass.  
Uteroscopic Stone Removal uses a small tool to get and remove stones stuck in the ureters.
Precutaneous Nephrolithotomy uses surgery to remove large stones from the kidneys.
For more information about any of these treatments, please talk to your doctor.

How can I prevent kidney stones?
If you have had kidney stones in the past, you are more likely to have kidney stones in the
future.  Try to stop stones from forming by:
•        Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water each day
•        Eating less salt (sodium), meat and eggs
•        Finding out what type of stone you have
•        Having a urine test done by your doctor
•        Talking to your doctor about your medicines and other tests for kidney stones

Do NOT reduce the calcium in your diet without talking to your doctor first!  Studies show that
limiting calcium in your diet may not stop kidney stones from forming and may harm your bones.
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