Kidney stones are a common condition. An estimated 1 in 10 people will experience a stone at least once in their lifetime, according to the National Kidney Foundation. While kidney stones tend to be more common in men, they are occurring more frequently in women every year.
It’s possible to pass a kidney stone painlessly while urinating. But depending on the size, type and location of the stone, you may need treatment — or even surgery — to remove it.
At the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute, our team has the expertise to diagnose and treat all types of kidney stones. We work to uncover what’s causing your stones — and help you understand how to prevent new ones from forming.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard masses that form inside the kidney. They develop when certain minerals and salts build up in the urine and crystalize into a stone. There are several types of kidney stones, each resulting from different materials in the urine. The most common types include:
- Calcium oxalate stones form when calcium and oxalate combine in the urine.
- Calcium phosphate stones form when calcium and phosphate combine in the urine.
- Uric acid stones result from high intake of foods with animal proteins (such as red meat, chicken, and shellfish) that are high in a chemical compound called purine. When you consume high levels of purine, your body produces more uric acid, which can form stones.
- Struvite stones are less common and usually occur with urinary tract infections.
- Cystine stones are rare and are usually genetic.
Kidney stone symptoms
Kidney stones range in size. They can be as small as a grain of sand up to the size of a chickpea. In rare cases, they can grow as large as a golf ball.
A kidney stone may stay in the kidney or it may travel through the urinary tract. While small stones can pass without you even noticing, larger ones may cause irritation, pain and even block urine from passing.
If a stone grows large enough, it may get stuck somewhere along the urinary tract and require treatment .
It’s possible to have a kidney stone for years without symptoms. But if the stone grows larger or tries to pass through your system, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Blood in your urine
- Pain while urinating
- Sharp pain in your lower back, side or lower abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
Kidney stone causes
There are several reasons why kidney stones form. Some of the most common causes of kidney stones include:
- Not drinking enough water
- Eating animal proteins (these foods are high in purines, a chemical compound found in red meat and shellfish)
- Having a diet that is high in sodium
- Consuming too much sugar
- Having a family history of kidney stones
- Taking certain medications (such as some antacids)
- Having other medical conditions (such as gout, diabetes and obesity)
To connect with a urology specialist, call us at (800) 436-7936 or request an appointment.