The urinary tract removes waste from the body and helps to ensure the body has a proper balance of water and salt. When this balance is upset, a kidney stone can develop. To understand how kidney stones are formed, you must first understand how the urinary tract works.
The urinary tract is comprised of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. As the body metabolizes protein
, a waste product called urea is formed. Urea is then mixed with water and salts from the body to form urine. The urine is produced in the kidneys and travels down through the ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until you urinate. During urinations, the urine travels through the urethra and exits your body.
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are painful crystalline formations that occur within the urinary tract. These stones can form when the balance of water, salts and minerals
change. The type of kidney stone a patient develops depends on the changes that occur within the urinary tract.
There are four main types of kidney stones-
• Calcium Stones
Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. These stones occur when high levels of calcium
are present within the body. Certain medical conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism, can increase the risk of developing this type of kidney stone.
You can reduce your risk of developing calcium stones by limiting the amount of calcium oxalate rich foods. These foods include chocolate, peanuts, potato chips, spinach and beets.
• Cystine Stones
Cystine stones are less common; however, they do occur. This type of stone is formed when too much cysteine is found in the urine. This condition is often the result of heredity. Cystine stones tend to run in families. Since this type of stone is based on heredity, there is little you can do to prevent the formation of these stones. However, researchers are now discovering that drinking approximately 4 liters of water daily along with alkalizing the urine pH can help prevent cystine stones from forming. Additionally, alkalizing drinks, such as mineral water and citrus juice, along with avoiding sodium can help lower the risk.
• Struvite Stones
Struvite stones occur when there is infection within the urinary tract (UTI)
or kidneys. This type of stone can be quite large, and antibiotics along with the removal of the kidney stone are often necessary. Because women are at a high risk of
developing UTIs, more women suffer from this type of kidney stone.
There are several things that can be done to help reduce the risk of struvite stones. Primarily, UTIs should be promptly treated with antibiotics to lower the risk of developing struvite stones. Additionally, proper wiping techniques should be utilized.
• Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid is a waste that is produced in the body; however, too much uric acid can cause kidney stones to develop. Several things that can increase the risk of developing a uric acid stone, including a diet rich in animal protein
, low urine output, drinking too much alcohol, gout and digestive issues, such as
inflammatory bowel disease. This type of kidney stone can be avoided by limiting the amount of animal protein, especially red meat. Additionally, limit the amount of alcohol you consume and increase the amount of water you drink.
Kidney stones are quite common. These stones form when the delicate balance within the urinary tract becomes disrupted due to dehydration, digestive issues and food choices. Whether you suffer from kidney stones already or just want to prevent them, drink plenty of fluids, eat a sensible diet, use good wiping habits and limit the amount of alcohol you consume.