Medically known as ‘nephrolithiasis’, kidney stones are hard deposits of crystal forming substances which are formed due to the buildup of dissolved minerals in the inner lining of the kidneys, resulting in pain and decrease in urine volume. Depending on the main constituent the key causes of kidney stone formation are:
Lower than the required amount of water per day or after strenuous exercise on a regular basis results in a buildup of uric acid in the kidneys, which might eventually lead to kidney stone formation. People who live in warm climates and sweat profusely are at a higher risk of Uric Acid Stone formation if the excessive loss of body water is not adequately replenished.
2- Genetic and Personal History:
A history of kidney stones in the family lineage increases the chances of development, particularly Cystine Stones which form in people suffering from a hereditary disorder ‘cystinuria’ which causes the kidneys to develop dangerously large amounts of certain amino acids. Previous kidney stone development in most individuals also increases the chances of a recurrence.
3- Certain Diets:
The most commonly occurring Calcium Oxalate Stones are usually formed due to excessive salt and oxalate intake-through spinach, chocolate, nuts, beets and potato crisps-which increases the amount of calcium deposits in the kidneys; making it difficult to filter. Moreover, a high protein diet consisting mainly of beef, fish and chicken raises acid levels in the urine, hence risking the simultaneous development of Uric Acid Stones along with calcium stones.
Prolonged use of certain medication such as calcium and Vitamin C and D supplements may cause the development of recurring kidney stones. Aspirin, antacids and certain antiretroviral medication-used for HIV treatment-antibiotics and anti-epileptic medicines may also result in kidney stone formation in some cases.
5- Caffeine and Artificial Sweeteners:
Stimulants like caffeine present in coffee, sodas and tea overwork and stress out the kidneys, elevate urine-calcium levels and form kidney stones if consumed in excess. Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners on a regular basis has also been proven to impair kidney function, hence increasing the chances of kidney stones or even kidney failure in extreme cases.
6- Other Medical Conditions:
Patients suffering from urinary tract infections, ‘hyperparathyroidism’ (the abnormal growth of one or more parathyroid glands which increases calcium production in blood and urine) and diabetes are at an increased risk of forming large, fast growing Struvite Stones and Calcium Stones respectively. The chronically increased amount of uric acid in the blood and urine of ‘gout’ patients may lead to the development of Uric Acid Stones.
Kidney stones, if left unidentified or untreated, might lead to renal failure. Check with a medical practitioner if you experience kidney pain or associated symptoms of kidney stones.
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