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"What are kidney stones?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat are kidney stones?


My wife has kidney stones that I think she's going to be treated for, hopefully soon. What caused these? I don't want this to happen in the future since she's in a lot of pain. What are kidney stones anyway?


This is an issue to discuss with your wife's doctors. Kidney stones are small masses that are made up of very small crystals. When the urine that is being filtered through the kidneys contains too much of a certain type of crystal, the crystals may start to join together and come out of solution, forming tiny stones. This process may take several weeks to months to fully occur. The most common type of kidney stone is made of calcium and oxalate; other types of stones include uric acid (the same type of crystal that causes gout), calcium phosphate, struvite, and cystine. While poor fluid intake and low urine output is generally considered a risk factor for developing kidney stones in general, each type of stone has different predisposing factors. For example, calcium oxalate stones are more common in people who have high blood calcium levels (such as from an overactive parathyroid gland), consume lots of high-oxalate foods (such as spinach) and those who have inflammatory bowel disease or have had intestinal surgery. As each type of stone is unique in terms of risk factors and treatment, it is important for your wife to find out which type of stone she has formed. This can be done by straining her urine (if she does not need surgery to remove her stone) or ensuring that her doctor sends any specimen collected by a procedure to the lab for analysis. You and your wife should then be able to talk with her urologist or kidney doctor about the best ways of preventing further stone formation.

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