What causes kidney stones? Hundreds of thousands of adults per year are affected by kidney stones worldwide. Whilst it is still an incredible common medical issue, it is often reported that it is one of the most painful things that people can experience.
In order to prevent kidney stones from afflicting you, it is important to attempt to understand what causes these “stones” to form.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are actually small crystalline deposits which accumulate on the lining of the kidneys. Minerals which pass through the kidneys can sometimes join together around a “seed crystal” and then gradually layer up and up until a “stone” begins to form. If stones are left untreated, they can continue to grow and grow.
What are the Major Causes of Kidney Stones?
The most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration. When there is not enough water in the kidneys, the concentration of water to mineral solutes changes and minerals can be deposited on the linings of the kidneys.
If that person is dehydrated on a regular basis, the pH balance of the kidneys will also change to become more acidic, creating an environment which is conducive to the formation of kidney stones. One of the best ways to reduce your chances of being afflicted by kidney stones is to ensure that you drink plenty of water (around 2 – 3 litres per day) and to make sure that you drink extra water when you are hot or exercising.
In America, there are “stone belts” where kidney stones are a far more common occurrence than elsewhere in the country. These are zones where the climate makes it far more likely for people to become dehydrated.
Build-ups of calcium in the kidneys can also cause stones in people who are already susceptible. Whilst the body needs calcium to maintain healthy teeth and bones, if too much calcium arrives in the kidneys, calcium-based kidney stones can form. One of the reasons why too much calcium may arrive in the kidneys is that certain foods may be preventing the body from absorbing calcium as well as it should be able to.
Foods which are rich in oxalates, such as beetroot, soy, almonds, rhubarb and chocolate may help to cause calcium-based kidney stones. Reducing your intake of these foods can help to make it easier for your body to absorb calcium and can prevent large amounts of calcium from ending up in your kidneys.
Existing Medical Conditions
Some people are also more susceptible to kidneys stones because of existing medical conditions. Some of the major factors which put people into the highest risk group for kidney stones includes; people who have a family history of kidney stones, people who suffer from gout, people with cystinuria or hyperoxalaria, those who are suffering from cystic kidney disease and those who have a family history of hypercalciuria.
People who are taking the protease inhibitor indinavir (which is frequently used to treat HIV) may also be in the high risk group for developing kidney stones.