Kidney stones, medically known as nephrolithiasis (neph-ro-lith-i-asis), is a term many people have probably heard before. You may have dealt with them first-hand, know someone who has dealt with them, or simply heard it in passing. If this is your first time learning about kidney stones, whether for yourself or caring for another…. welcome! This section will go over some information to get you started and provide helpful resources to learn more, all at your own pace.
Let’s start with the basics. What are kidney stones? Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form in the kidney. They may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract. Their size can vary and be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl.
Kidney stone disease is one of the oldest and most common problems of the urinary system. The most common is calcium-oxalate stones and can be caused by foods with salt or oxalates, some medicines, genetics and other kidney problems. Three other types of kidney stones to be aware of are struvite stones, uric acid stones, and cystine stones. More details about these types of kidney stones can be found in the below listed resources.
Kidney stones may not cause any symptoms, meaning you may not even know you have them. On the flip side, if a stone blocks the flow of urine out of the kidney, it can be very painful.
Treatment will look different for each patient so be sure to talk with your doctor about next steps based on the type of kidney stone present. The kidney stone may be able to be passed by itself, but other options include medicine or surgery.
There are also lifestyle and diet changes that can be made to help prevent kidney stones from forming again. Drinking enough water, reducing salt intake, and eating less meat are just a few.