Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

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The kidneys filter the blood and remove excess water and waste chemicals to produce urine. Urine travels from each kidney down the tube draining urine from the kidney (the ureter) into the bladder. It then travels out of the body via the urethra when the bladder is full. Many waste chemicals are dissolved in the urine. The chemicals sometimes form tiny crystals in the urine which clump together to form a small stone.

About 3 in 20 men and 1 in 20 women in the US develop a kidney stone at some stage in their lives. They can happen at any age but most commonly occur between the ages of 20 and 40. About half of people who develop a kidney stone will find it happens again (recurs) at least once at some stage.


  • Low Urine Volume - may come from dehydration (loss of body fluids) from hard exercise, working or living in a hot place, or not drinking enough fluids.
  • Diet - too much salt in the diet is a risk factor for calcium stones.
  • Bowel Conditions - specifically, diarrhea may result in loss of large amounts of fluid from the body, lowering urine volume.
  • Obesity - may change the acid levels in the urine, leading to stone formation.
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medications
  • Family History


  • A sharp, cramping pain in the back and side, often moving to the lower abdomen or groin. Some women say the pain is worse than childbirth labor pains. The pain often starts suddenly and comes in waves. It can come and go as the body tries to get rid of the stone.
  • A feeling of intense need to urinate.
  • Urinating more often or a burning feeling during urination.
  • Urine that is dark or red due to blood. Sometimes urine has only small amounts of red blood cells that can't be seen with the naked eye.
  • Needing to urinate two or more times per night
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • For men, you may feel pain at the tip of the penis.

There are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of getting kidney stones.

  • Drink enough fluids each day. If you are not producing enough urine, your health care provider will recommend you drink at least 3 liters of liquid each day. This equals about 3 quarts (about ten 10-ounce glasses).
  • Reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Sodium can cause both urine calcium and cystine to be too high. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health groups advise not eating more than 2,300 mg of salt per day.
  • Eat the recommended amount of calcium. You can usually get enough calcium from your diet without supplements if you eat three-to-four servings of calcium-rich food.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily is recommended for all people who form kidney stones.
  • Eat foods with low oxalate levels. Urinary oxalate is controlled because eating calcium lowers the oxalate level in your body. But if doing that does not control your urine oxalate, you may be asked to eat less of certain high-oxalate foods.
  • Eat less meat. This might mean eating meat, fish, seafood, poultry, pork, lamb, mutton and game meat fewer times during the week, or eating smaller portions when you do eat them.

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