Is your lifestyle causing kidney stones?



They can range from as small as grain of sand to as large as a lychee, are often made of calcium, and can develop from a lack of adequate hydration. What are we talking about? Kidney Stones.


Kidney stones, otherwise known by their medical name nephrolithiasis, are crystalline mineral material deposits which collect in the kidneys over time when passing through the urinary system.


Whilst you sleep, eat and go about your daily business your urinary system is at work, with your kidneys sorting waste chemicals and filtering the blood.


Occasionally in this process, not all materials or chemicals leave the body, and will instead begin to collect in the kidneys rather than being expelled during urination, forming kidney stones.


The most common forms of kidney stones are made from a deposit of calcium and other chemicals such as phosphate, whereas rarer kidney stones such as the coral-looking struvite stones are caused by infections of the urinary system. Rarer still, cystine stones are hereditary and look more like crystals than stones.


What are the symptoms?

Kidney stones may go undetected with little or no symptoms for years or can present as acute, severe pain. The pain associated with kidney stones most often appears in the back or side part of the body, and can appear as severe or sharp, or occur primarily during urination, where blood may also present.


Gastrointestinal upsets may also be a symptom – particularly nausea, an upset stomach and even vomiting.


And what about diagnosis and treatment?

Some kidney stones will pass through with urination over time, however others which do not dislodge or erode instead grow over time as minerals continue to deposit.


To determine whether a patient has kidney stones, a urologist or nephrologist may perform an ultrasound, intravenous pyelography or a CT scan.


Laser is a particularly common method of treating kidney stones, as is shock-wave therapy which is a non-invasive procedure, essentially breaking up kidney stones into fragments so they can be passed more easily during urination. Larger, complicated stones which are bigger than 2cm or are irregularly shaped require surgery.



Sadly, kidney stones increase a person’s risk of later developing kidney disease – essentially acting as ‘canaries in the coal mine’, so it’s important to take precautions and preventative action before kidney stones develop or become complicated.


Hydration is particularly important in the prevention of kidney stones, as increased hydration allows the kidneys to adequately dispel waste, so the urinary system doesn’t become “sluggish” and store mineral deposits.


Studies have also suggested that diets high in salt and sugar, as well as obesity increase the risk of developing kidney stones.


Dr Mohan Arianayagam joined Ed Phillips on Health & Wellbeing – Listen to the full interview above


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