Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes kidney stones?"
My mom just had to get several kidney stones removed, which was a very difficult procedure for her to go through. What is the best way to prevent this from happening again? What caused them in the first place? She has never taken great care of her health, and she's over 50.
Kidney stones (also known as nephrolithiasis) are very common occurrences. They are extremely painful and in some cases can even cause kidney failure. In many cases, no definable, reversible causes are found. Kidney stones come in a variety of different types each of which are caused by something different. Most stones are made of calcium. Calcium stones can occur because high calcium in the blood, high calcium excretion in the urine, or changes in oxalate levels or urine pH. Determining what caused it requires blood tests and urine tests to look at how much calcium is being excreted in the urine. Addition of a thiazide diuretic can reduce the amount of calcium in the urine and reduce the number of calcium stones. Other stones such as uric acid stones may be prevented with drugs such as allopurinol. Struvite stones may be helped by treating a bladder infection. Finally, a rare type or stone is a cysteine stone. I suggest that your mother schedule an appointment with her primary care physician. Have her discuss this issue with him or her, especially in the context of the type of stone. She may need blood tests to look at her calcium levels. Her list of medications will need to be reviewed along with her diet so that any risk lowering strategies can be implemented.
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