Kidney stones or renal stone disease is a condition that affects thousands of people all over the world every year. Many people do not understand the process of kidney stones, even if they have experienced them personally, and a lot of people do not appreciate the fact that they tend to run in families.
Taking a closer look at kidney stone formation, for example, what causes them and how they can be prevented could potentially reduce the risks of a person getting them and therefore should be explored in much more detail.
The most basic way to explain kidney stone formation is to say that they occur when there is a buildup of a certain compound within the body and with most people this is calcium but can be oxalate, uric acid and many other things.
Normally the minerals and compounds that make up a kidney stone are built up in the kidneys which filter them in the body to be passed out through the urine stream.
However, if there is an excess of something that cannot be diluted or concentrated in the urine, they get stored up as such within the kidneys. One way of explaining this is to look how much sugar can be dissolved in one glass of water. The more sugar there is, the less it can be dissolved and the process works in much the same way within the body.
The two main types of kidney stones are made up of uric acid and calcium. Eighty percent of people with kidney stones will experience the latter type and this occurs when there is too much calcium within the body. The bones and teeth will already have extracted what they need and the rest is sent to the kidneys as such to be dissolved in the urine.
If there is a lot of calcium however, it cannot be fully concentrated in the urine and kidney stone formation begins. Uric acid works in the same way. The body already produces uric acid but if the diet contains a lot of meat, the amount can be increased massively. The stomach produces more uric acid when meat is being digested so when more is consumed, more acid is produced and the less it can be concentrated in urine.
The other types of kidney stones are:
Struvite stones – there is too much magnesium, phosphate and ammonium in the body
Calcium phosphate stones – these are normally associated with other medical conditions such as renal tubular acidosis
Cystine stones – the accumulation of cystine in urine
Kidney stone formation will begin when there is an excess of a certain something in the body that cannot be dissolved in urine and then this carries on until the kidney stone is either removed, the compounds that are in excess are lessened or until the kidney stone passes through naturally out of the body.
There are preventative methods such as reducing the amount of the compound that is consumed or produced naturally within the body and there are also medical procedures which can take place to remove stones which are in a sensitive area or that are too large to pass on their own.