• A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract.
• Nephrolithiasis is the medical term for kidney stones.
• One in every 20 people develops kidney stones at some point in their life.
• Kidney stones form a decrease in urine volume and or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine.
• Dehydration is a significant risk factor for kidney stone formation.
• Symptoms of a kidney stone include flank pain (the pain can be quite severe) and blood in the urine (hematuria).
• People with certain medical conditions, such as gout and those who take certain medications or supplements, are at risk for kidney stones.
• Diet and hereditary factors are also related to stone formation.
• Diagnosis of kidney stones is best accomplished using an ultrasound, intravenous pyelography (IVP), or a CT scan.
• Most kidney stones will pass through the ureter to the bladder on their own with time.
• Treatment includes pain-control medications and, in some cases, medications to facilitate the passage of urine.
• If needed, lithotripsy or surgical techniques may be used for stones that do not pass through the ureter to the bladder.
A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract. Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine (hematuria) and often severe pain in the abdomen, flank, or groin. Kidney stones are sometimes called renal calculi.
The condition of having kidney stones is termed nephrolithiasis.
Anyone may develop a kidney stone, but people with certain diseases and conditions (see below) or those taking certain medications are more susceptible to their development. Urinary tract stones are more common in men than in women. Most urinary stones develop in people 20 to 49 years of age, and those who are prone to multiple attacks of kidney stones usually develop their first stones during the second or third decade of life. People who have already had more than one kidney stone are prone to developing further stones.
In residents of industrialized countries, kidney stones are more common than stones in the bladder. The opposite is true for residents of developing areas of the world, where bladder stones are the most common. This difference is believed to be related to dietary factors. People who live in the southern or southwestern regions of the U.S. have a higher rate of kidney stone formation, possibly due to inadequate water intake leading to dehydration than those living in other areas. Over the last few decades, the percentage of people with kidney stones in the U.S. has been increasing, most likely related to the obesity epidemic.
A family history of kidney stones is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in Asians and Caucasians than in Native Americans, Africans, or African Americans.
Uric acid kidney stones are more common in people with chronically elevated uric acid levels in their blood (hyperuricemia).
A small number of pregnant women develop kidney stones, and there is some evidence that pregnancy-related changes may increase the risk of stone formation. Factors that may contribute to the stone formation during pregnancy include a slowing of urine passage due to increased progesterone levels and diminished fluid intake due to a decreasing bladder capacity from the enlarging uterus. Healthy pregnant women also have a mild increase in their urinary calcium excretion. However, it remains unclear whether the changes of pregnancy are directly responsible for kidney stone formation or if these women have another underlying factor that predisposes them to kidney stone formation.
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