What you need to know about types of kidney stones

What you need to know about types of kidney stones

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So, you’re walking down the street on a warm summer day when, all of a sudden, you feel a sharp pain in your lower back.  It’s pain you haven’t felt before, quite excruciating really. You can’t take it so you decide to pay your doctor an emergency visit.  After running some tests, your doctor comes back and gives you the news: kidney stones.  Your immediate reaction is that you are in for a lot more pain and that you really don’t want to pee them out.  It’s quite normal to react in such a way, but you should take a deep breath before you go into panic mode.  It’s important to know what kind of kidney stone you have.  That information will prove to be quite valuable when you decide what you need to change your daily routines to make sure stones don’t come back.  With that in mind, let Joe Cosgrove fill you in on a couple of things, from types of kidney stones to what may have caused them and ending with some recommendations to make sure they don’t poke their ugly little heads in your body ever again.

Cystine stones

Unlike Michelangelo’s famous chapel, these stones are everything but pretty.  They are also quite uncommon.   As a matter of fact, the only way you will suffer from cystine stones is if you have cystinuria; it’s a kidney disorder that you inherit, which could present itself from as early as childhood.  What essentially happens is that your kidneys excrete way more cysteine, an amino acid, than they can get rid of and two of these end up getting together.  As they build up, so does the size of the stone.  Treatment for cystine stones is usually drinking incredibly large amounts of liquids so that your body can dilute the urine.

Struvite stones

You can’t blame your kidneys for these types of stones.  You can blame all those people and animals who urinate on the ground.  It turns out that once urine is on the ground, a chemical reaction will end with bacteria forming and staying in the dirt.  It can stay for a long time, by the way. How it ends up in your system is quite easy.  Think of all the things you eat during the day and then think of how many of the ingredients in those foods come from crops which are planted in soil.  Not washing these types of foods effectively will help the bacteria enter your body and eventually the urinary system. Struvite stones are arguably the most dangerous ones, given that they come from bacteria, there is a chance they could get into your bloodstream and infect it with sepsis.  If you want to get rid of struvite stones, chances are you will need to go through surgery and take antibiotics afterwards; the antibiotics are useful at killing any remaining bacteria.

Image courtesy of Dan Perl at Flickr.com

Uric acid stones

Those who have been diagnosed with uric acid stones have some things in common.  First off, they probably don’t hydrate themselves enough on a regular basis.  Secondly, they may have a diet which requires them to consume large amounts of protein. That’s really it.  These are probably the easiest stones to treat.  All you need to do is add a small amount of alkali, such as citrate, to your diet and you should be good to go.

Calcium stones

These are by far the most common types of kidney stones you can get.  So much, that they had to be divided into two sub-types:  oxalate and phosphate.  The subtype depends on the chemical bond that goes on between calcium and oxalate and phosphate.  These are so common given our kidney do not completely get rid of a surplus of calcium in our blood. Those small amounts which remain in our urine can come together to slowly create calcium kidney stones.  Those who are sedentary have a higher risk of getting calcium stones.  Additionally, if you don’t drink enough fluids during the day or you have a thing for sugar or salt, you may be at risk.  Treatment depends on the size and gravity of symptoms.

As you can tell, kidney stones are mainly caused by bad eating habits, not cleaning food appropriately, a sedentary lifestyle, and not drinking enough fluids.  In other words, doing whatever prevents the kidneys from doing their job.  It’s important for us to take preventive measures to make sure that we don’t ever have to go through the excruciating task of having to pass a kidney stone, especially if you are a man.  Taking care of your kidneys is easier than you think.  It just takes making our diet a little more balanced, drinking plenty of liquids, and doing some exercise.  Now that you know the types of kidney stones you can get, you will be better prepared to face the challenge if you are ever diagnosed.

* Featured Image courtesy of Megan at Flickr.com

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