What is Kidney Stone Disease?

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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Kidney stone disease, also known as renal stone disease, is a urological condition that affects more than three million people each year. The stones form when various chemicals that are part of a person’s normal diet crystallize. Often, small kidney stones are able to leave the body through the urine. However, when the stones become too big and cannot pass from the ureter — a tube that passes urine from the kidney to the bladder — the stones blocks the flow of urine, causing agonizing pain. While the exact cause of kidney stone disease is unknown, the stones can often be removed without any permanent damage.

Men are more prone to kidney stone disease, and a person's chances of developing the ailment increase with age. An individual is also at risk for kidney stones if he does not drink enough water. Other risk factors include eating a diet that is high in sodium and protein and having a high body mass index. If kidney stones run in the family, a person is more apt to develop the condition. Once a person develops stones, he is prone to developing them again.


At the onset, kidney stones do not present any symptoms. However, once a stone blocks the urinary tract, a person will experience severe pain. Once the stone moves and the body attempts to push the stone out, blood may show up in the urine, giving it a pink or red appearance. When the stone advances toward the bladder, an individual will often feel the need to go to the bathroom more often and may experience a burning feeling while urinating.

When kidney stones move into the ureter, other symptoms may appear. A person may also have extreme pain in the side and back. The pain may eventually advance to the lower abdomen and groin. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. In cases when an infection follows, a person will suffer from the chills and a fever.

Kidney stone disease typically occurs when an individual's urine possesses too many crystal-forming materials, including uric acid and calcium. These crystal substances are not able to become diluted in the urine. As more and more crystals form, they gradually turn into stones.

Treatment for kidney stones aim to relieve symptoms and prevent them from recurring. Keeping hydrated and drinking as much as two quarts (about three liters) of water daily may help pass small stones through the urinary system. Pain relievers can help lessen the pain involved with passing a stone.

In cases when the stones are too large to pass, more extreme treatment may be necessary. A method call extracorporeal shock wave lithrotripsy involves using vibrations to split the stones into smaller pieces that can then be passed into the urine. If the stone is very large and extracorporeal shock wave lithrotripsy has not worked, stones may need to be removed surgically.



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