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A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral development, which forms within the kidney or the urinary tract. It is called nephrolithiasis in medical terms. Kidney stones occur due to the decrease in urine volume or due to an excess of substances in the urine which are stone-forming in nature. Dehydration is considered to be a primary risk factor for kidney stones too.
Causes of kidney stones:Kidney stones develop when the urine contains increased amounts of crystal forming substances. They include calcium, oxalate and uric acid in amounts which the fluid in the urine cannot dilute. Your urine may also lack the substances which help in prevention of crystals from sticking to each other, thereby enhancing the conditions for kidney stones to form.
The balance of your urine can change due to several factors:
- Not drinking sufficient amount of water makes the salts, minerals and other substances present in the urine to stick together, which may lead to the formation of a stone.
- The normal urine balance may get disrupted due to several health conditions, which lead to kidney stone formation. Diseases such as gout or certain inflammatory bowel diseases can also cause kidney stones.
- Many cases of kidney stones are hereditary and run in families, affecting family members over many generations.
- A rare cause of kidney stone formation is the overproduction of hormones by the parathyroid glands, which results in increased levels of calcium leading to calcium kidney stones.
Types of kidney stones
Kidney stones are of different types, which occur due to several, different causes. They are as follows:
- Calcium stones: Calcium stones account for being the most common form of kidney stones. They occur due to excessive calcium in the urine. This may happen due to an inherited condition known as hypercalciuria, the overreaction of the parathyroid gland, kidney diseases, several cancers or from a condition known as sarcoidosis. The stones may be large and smooth or rough and spiky.
- Struvite stones: These stones are caused due to infections. And they usually occur after a urinary tract infection. This form of kidney stone is more common in women though.
- Uric acid stones: These stones occur due to large amounts of uric acid in the urine. It may occur from having a high protein diet, from a health condition called gout or from a hereditary condition where the amount of uric acid in urine increases.
- Cystine stones: These are rare kidney stones and occur due to a hereditary health condition known as cystinuria.
Kidney stones occur due to the change in balance of water, salts and minerals, which are present in the urine. Insufficient water consumption is often the most common cause of kidney stones. So make sure you drink lots of water to keep stone formation at bay.