Kidney Stones
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are solid crystal aggregations that form in the kidneys. They are produced from the minerals found in urine. About four-fifths of those who develop kidney stones are men, and they usually occur around age 40. They typically leave the body through urination, although some can grow too large to pass through the urethra. Kidney stones can cause a great deal of pain.


The most common type of kidney stone is the calcium oxalate. Made up almost entirely of calcium, this form of kidney stone is actually found primarily in people who supplement with extra calcium. It is believed that dietary calcium does not cause calcium oxalate, but rather only the form found in supplements.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom of kidney stones is excruciating pain in the groin and inner thigh. The pain is known as renal colic, and it is considered one of the more severe forms of pain. Many of the symptoms of kidney stones actually come as a result of renal colic, and these include urgency to urinate, restlessness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. The pain generally lasts up to an hour, and it can be accompanied by ureter contractions as the body tries to expel the stone.


The most common causes for kidney stones are dietary. Those at the highest risk to develop kidney stones are those who have a low liquid intake, as well as those who have a high intake of animal protein, sugar, sodium, or high fructose corn syrup.

In addition, various electrolytes can have an effect on kidney stone formation. High dietary sodium has such an effect on the kidneys because it increases urinary calcium excretion. On the other hand, high dietary potassium can decrease the risk of forming kidney stones because it counteracts the effects of sodium.


If the pain of kidney stones is not yet too great, they can be controlled through dietary measures. A proper diet can prevent future kidney stones and decrease the size of current ones. Those who have or at risk of developing kidney stones are recommended to increase their fluid intake, maintain high levels of dietary calcium, limit sodium, limit Vitamin C, and limit animal protein. It is also recommended to avoid leafy greens, soy products, chocolate, and other foods that are oxalate-rich.

Another treatment of kidney stones is urine alkalinization. This involves the use of oral medications that alkalinize urine. This increases the pH level of urine to around 6.5, optimizing the conditions for kidney stones to dissolve.

For those people with recurring calcium stones, allopurinol is thought to reduce the occurrence of kidney stones. It interferes with the production of uric acid in the liver, ultimately leading to reduced urinary excretion of uric acid.

Finally, diuretics are recommended to prevent kidney stones. Some diuretics contain thiazide, a drug that inhibits the formation of stones by reducing the excretion of calcium.