Kidney Stone Disease

Some one million Americans between the ages of 20 and 40 are treated each year for kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in men, who account for about four out of five cases. Kidney stone disease, or “Nephrolithiasis,” is a common disorder, with 2-3% lifetime incidence rate in the United States. A disease found most often in middle-aged men, there are five main stone types, including calcium stones (78%), infection related stones (15%), uric acid stones (5%), cystine stones (1%) such as xanthene.

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a hard mass that occurs when calcium oxalate or other chemicals in the urine form crystals that stick together. These crystals may grow into stones ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. The larger stones could potentially block the flow of urine or irritate the lining of the urinary tract.

Who is at risk?

The risk factors and common clinical presentations will vary, depending on the type of stone. There are, however, certain similar characteristics found for “stone formers” which include:

  • Family history of stones
  • Certain genetic and metabolic diseases
  • Males between the ages of 30-50
  • Diets high in calcium (dairy products) or oxalates (colas, chocolate)
  • Reduced water consumption
  • Living in a hot climate
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Limited activity for several weeks

What are the symptoms?

Although kidney stones may cause different symptoms, depending on there location, size, and shape, the sudden server pain associated with passing a stone is an event that most patients will not forget soon. Other symptoms includes:

    • Frequent or painful urination
    • Infection
    • Bloody urine
    • Fever, chills and weakness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Blocked urine flow
    • Cloudy foul smelling urine
    • Flank (side) pain or tenderness

How are kidney stones diagnosed?

X-Rays can usually identify the presence of stones. Specialized x-ray techniques (sometimes using dye injections) or sound waves may be used to identify more accurately the size and location of the stones and to test kidney function. Your physician may request a stone analysis to determine the chemical makeup of your stone. This information will assist your physician in discovering what type of stone you may be potentially developing in the future. Each treatment program is different as it is customized to the patient and their symptoms.

What are my treatment options?

Most stones can be treated with increased fluid intake, changes in diet and medication. About 90 percent of stones will pass by themselves within three and six weeks. Certain types of stones may sometimes be dissolved using medications; however, calcium contain stones cannot be dissolved. Stones should always be removed with infections, obstruction or kidney damage is present. As always, it is important for you to discuss thoroughly the various treatment options with your doctor.

This report is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice, nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best option.

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