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What causes kidney stones (and what to do)

If you’ve ever suffered from a kidney stone, you might be aware of the shooing and throbbing pain that it causes. Kidney stones can develop in anyone at any age, so understanding the do’s and don’ts is important for everyone. Many early signs can help prevent pain, discomfort, and life-long damage to the kidney. In this blog, we discuss the common causes of kidney stones. By understanding the main causes, one reduces the probability of developing kidney stones, while bringing a few alterations in your lifestyle.

Kidney stones vary in shapes and sizes, ranging from a grain of sand to a large golf ball. Generally, the accumulation of undissolved salts and other minerals in urine forms kidney stones. Some medicines help stones pass through the urinary tract. While they can cause excruciating pain, these won’t damage the passage.


Often there is no single cause behind development of stones but, several factors come together to increase the risk. In men, risk percentage is higher than in women. Stones form when urine contains excess crystal-forming substances, including calcium, oxalate or uric acid, along with the deprivation of fluid that helps in diluting these substances, explain Urologists of AMRI Hospitals.

Some factors that are generally linked with an increased risk of developing kidney stones are:

• Inadequate water intake

Many people don’t drink enough water throughout the day, which is one of the leading factors behind stone formation in kidney, particularly, when you are living in a warm and dry climate. This can lead to low urine volume. As a result, salts remain undissolved, creating a higher risk of forming stones.

• Obesity

Excess weight may create an abnormal change in acid level in the urine, leading to stone formation. Larger waist size, sudden weight gain, or high BMI (Body mass index) is associated with a greater risk of kidney stones.

• Family History

Chances of kidney stones developing are much higher if someone in the family has a history of kidney stones. Also, if you have previously suffered from kidney stones, your doctor will advise taking precautions to avoid the risk of stones forming in the future.

• Medication/Supplements

Some commonly-used medicines and dietary supplements used to treat depression or migraines are calcium-based antacids, prolonged use of which can lead to stone formation in the kidneys. Also, people who regularly workout in gyms are advised certain supplements that might increase the risk of kidney stones, if not taken under a doctor’s supervision.

• Dietary patterns

Consumption of food items high in protein, sodium, calcium, or sugar in daily diet increases your risk of all kinds of kidney stones. A high-sodium diet (smoked/canned food, salted snacks, frozen meat, restaurant prepared meals, ready-to-eat packs, pickles, or sauces) increases the build-up of calcium in your kidney. The undiluted or excess calcium significantly raises the chances of stone formation.

• Bowel Conditions

Chronic diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, urinary tract infections, or gastric bypass surgery can suddenly affect the digestive channel, and start absorbing more oxalate from the intestine than usual. The risk of developing calcium or oxalate stones is higher in such cases.

What to Do:

Managing or removing smaller kidney stones is easier with the help of certain medications that speed up the passing of stones naturally. Also, plenty of fluid intake and pain relief medications help in the process. You might be advised to make changes in your diet, avoiding high-sodium items or packaged snacks.

Large stones, however, may need surgical intervention as a successful treatment option, including shock wave lithotripsy (SWL), ureteroscopy, or percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL).