The majority of people know that kidney stones are hard, crystalline mineral materials that form within the kidney or urinary tract, but they do not know what causes kidney stones. Often called renal calculi, the causes of kidney stones are varied. The formation of kidney stones can happen when there is a decrease in urine volume and/or when there is an excess of kidney stone-forming substances in the urine. The most common type of kidney stone contains calcium along with oxalate or phosphate. Kidney stones can also form from other chemical compounds in the urinary tract such as uric acid or cystine, an amino acid.
There are several types of kidney stones known for the types of crystals that form the stones. These types of kidney stones include: Calcium kidney stones – most kidney stones are made up of calcium, usually calcium oxalate. Calcium stones may also come in the form of calcium phosphate. Struvite stones – these form in the response to an infection, like a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and can become very large. Uric acid stones – these can form in people who are dehydrated, have gout, or eat a high-protein diet. Cystine stones – these represent a minor percentage of kidney stones. Cystine stones form in people with an hereditary disorder that causes an excessive amount of cystinuria to be excreted by the kidneys.
Dehydration caused by inadequate fluid intake after strenuous work or exercise and failure to replenish the lost fluids can cause kidney stones. Obstruction to the flow of urine and an infection of the urinary tract can also cause kidney stones. Several different medical conditions may cause kidney stones and people with these conditions should be vigilant in looking for signs and symptoms. The medical conditions are as follows: Gout releases a high amount of uric acid in the blood stream and urine that leads to the creation of uric acid stones. Hypercalciuria is an inherited condition where there is high calcium in the urine. Hypercalciuria causes kidney stones in more than half of all cases because too much calcium is absorbed from food and put back into the urine where it forms calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones. Hyperparathyroidism, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as kidney diseases are also causes of kidney stones. People who have inflammatory bowel disease as well as some medications can cause kidney stones due to the amounts of calcium contained in the medicines.
Finally, kidney stones may be caused by dietary factors. Inadequate fluid intake, high consumption of animal proteins, high salt diets, excessive sugar consumption, excessive Vitamin D supplements as well as excessive intakes of spinach, an oxalate-containing food can all cause kidney stones. It is important to keep an eye on what you are eating and make sure you are eating a well-balanced and properly nutritious diet in order to avoid kidney stones.