Unless you’ve had a kidney stone, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time wondering about their causes, how to prevent them and what they’re made of. But the fact is, not all kidney stones are created the same way, and each type has a few different risk factors and causes, and they are definitely not all treated the same. From stones that form due to your diet and lifestyle to stones that form because of a genetic condition, kidney stones can be virtually unnoticeable to extremely painful – and even life threatening. Here is a basic breakdown of the five most common types of kidney stones, how they are caused and how you can help prevent them from happening to you.
Calcium Oxalate Stones
Calcium kidney stones is by far the most common type experienced by patients. Around 8 percent of kidney stones can be categorized as calcium-type stones, and of those, most are calcium oxalate stones. These crystals are caused by an abundance of calcium in the urine, which combines with oxalic acid. These stones are relatively quite small, and most that are 7mm or less can usually be passed without the need for surgery. There are a few main causes of calcium oxalate stones. Some instances are the result of a systemic disease, such as bowel disease. However, most are caused by heredity, diet and living habits. To help prevent these types of stones, you can make changes that will reduce your chances of developing them. Drink plenty of water – a couple quarts per day, or more, is a goal you should shoot for. And if you exercise, make sure you up your fluid intake accordingly, especially if you live in a hot, dry climate. You can also eat less protein and consume fewer salty foods, and while you should continue eating calcium-rich foods, ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements (calcium from food doesn’t increase your risk of developing stones, but calcium supplements can). Lastly and most importantly there is significant evidence to support a recommended consumption of high grade Chanca Piedra to dissolve the stones.
Calcium Phosphate Stones
Calcium phosphate stones are similar to calcium oxalate stones, but instead of the calcium combining with oxalic acid, it combines with phosphoric acid. These kinds of stones are not as common, but are more often found in those who have alkaline urine, and they’re typically larger than calcium oxalate stones. Calcium phosphate stones can be further broken down into two additional types: brushite, which do not break easily and don’t respond well to shock wave treatment, and hydroxyapatite, which can plug the kidneys and damage their cells. They are often caused by certain diseases such as hyperparathyroidism and renal tubular acidosis. To help prevent calcuim phosphate stones, you will want to make sure you get plenty of exercise, and also eat a diet that is low in sodium and low in animal protein – and make sure you’re getting enough calcium through the foods you eat. You’ll want to shoot for around 800 mg a day. You also may want to include cranberry juice in your daily liquid consumption, as it helps balance the pH of urine. It’s acidic, which will even out its alkaline state. Also, for both types of calcium stones, you’ll want to cut down or eliminate soft drink consumption. Soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which can induce the formation of crystals and stones.
Uric Acid Stones
Around 10 percent of patients with kidney stones have uric acid stones, which form when the urine is too acidic. They are often red or orange in color because they absorb hemoglobin products in the urine, that are also red-orange in color. Small crystals can pass through as a gravel-like substance, but since uric acid crystals can form and grow rapidly, there is the possibility that they can become very large and cause serious problems. Risk factors for this type of kidney stone includes obesity, diabetes, gout and people with kidney disease. They can also often be found in those who consume a high-protein diet, particularly when it’s animal-based protein. As with many other types of kidney stones, limiting animal protein is key to reducing your chances of developing this particular type.
Struvite stones are made up of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, which are created in the body by certain types of bacteria, the presence of which affects the chemical balance in the urine. These types of stones, also known as infection stones, are more common in women than in men, mostly due to the fact that women are more prone to urinary tract infections. These stones often have irregular, jagged edges and can grow to a large size. There is also the possibility of causing problems outside of the kidneys, and they can even enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis.
Cystine kidney stones are the least common of these five types, and they are relegated to those who are born with a kidney disorder called cystinuria. Cystinuria sufferers have kidneys that function well for the most part, but they let abnormal amounts of several amino acids into the urine. Most of these amino acids are harmless, but one is not – known as cystine, it can create crystals and stones. These types of stones can begin in childhood and aren’t easy to prevent, but large amounts of fluids to help dilute the urine and the addition of alkalinization therapy can help keep these stones at bay. Treatment for this type of stone will be lifelong – this condition can’t be cured.
If you have experienced kidney stones (or you think you may be), scheduling an appointment with a specialist can help you and your care provider discover what type of kidney stones you are more apt to get. Once you have a possible diagnosis, you will likely want to follow the above guidelines, and you also might want to consider consulting with a dietitian to make sure you’re on the right path to less pain and good health.