Types of Stones
Different stones are made of different materials and form under different circumstances. Generally, stones fall into calcium (oxalate/phosphate), struvite, uric acid, and cystine.
Calcium stones, as the name implies, are created by an abundance of calcium. Generally, dietary consumption of calcium can play a role, but there are other factors. Calcium stones are either calcium oxalate (the vast majority) or calcium phosphate, depending on the pH balance of the blood.
Struvite stones are caused by infections, typically of the urinary tract. As women are more prone to UTIs, they, unfortunately, suffer the bulk of struvite stone cases. Diet does not directly affect these stones, though eating food that limits infections may indirectly decrease the occurrence of these stones.
Uric acid stones are formed from uric acid crystals; generally, these stones occur in situations where there is an abundance of purines in the diet, as well as animal-based protein, particularly organ meats and shellfish.
Cystine stones are among the rarest kidney stone varieties; this is because they result from a specific genetic disorder. The disorder causes cystine, an amino acid, to leak from the kidneys, where it may clump together to form stones.
Causes of Kidney Stones
By and large, insufficient water intake is the main contributor to kidney stones of all varieties. This is because regardless of anything else, water lubricates the digestive system and dilutes deposits, and a lack of water makes urine more saturated with deposits. With that out of the way, other factors include diets oversaturated with various vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D, purines (contributing to hyperuricemia), or dysfunction of certain glands or organs. Additionally, chemotherapy may create kidney stones as a side effect. Different kidney stones have different causes and contributing factors.
Symptoms of a Kidney Stone
As you likely know, the primary symptom of kidney stones is an immense constant pain in the sides, abdomen, and lower back. Aside from that, kidney stones sometimes move, which can lead to urinary infections that may cause painful urination. Oftentimes, this urination will be pink, red, or brown in color. Some lesser known symptoms include fever, chills, restlessness, and nausea, all of which are associated with numerous other conditions; these can make it difficult to diagnose kidney stones properly.
Treatment Options for Kidney Stones
If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor; Your doctor will be able to diagnose the kidney stone and talk about treatment options. For smaller stones, it’s not uncommon to simply encourage their passage by increasing water intake and waiting; typically, in these circumstances, the stones will pass in a matter of days. Otherwise, treatments may involve medication, various other procedures, or surgery. If you’re not keen on potentially expensive medication or medical procedures, there are some natural treatments that may be able to help.
Ultimately, when it comes to clearing up kidney stones, citric acid is key. Citric acid, or more specifically citrates, have been found to break down calcium oxalate, the vast majority of kidney stones. This means if you are looking to break down smaller stones, you should increase your intake of citrus fruits.Related: 9 Habits That Hurt Your Kidneys