Our quick guide to kidney stones

14 December 2018, Tim Burton
Kidney stones are something that around 1 in 10 of us will experience in our lives. Some people won’t even realise they’ve had a small kidney stone, whilst larger stones can be very unpleasant. Here’s our guide to kidney stones.

Kidney stones are relatively common and occur when urine contains too much waste material, which leads it to crystallise and form small stones in the kidney. Most people have chemicals in their urine which prevent these crystals from forming. However, for some people these chemicals don’t work efficiently and this causes crystals to form.

Affecting more men than women

Kidney stones usually affect people between the ages of 20 and 50. Whilst both men and women can get them, men are more likely to get them. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you’re also more likely to get them.

Spotting kidney stones

Sometimes a stone will be quite small and will pass through the urine unnoticed. If the stone builds up in size, however, you will begin to feel its presence.                          

A larger stone can cause symptoms such as the symptoms of a fever like a high temperature, tiredness and vomiting. You might also encounter blood in your urine, pain when peeing, peeing more frequently, and a pain that spreads from the back to below the belly button and down to the genitals

Causes of kidney stones

Kidney stones are caused when chemicals in the body do not perform as they should do. There isn’t any way to guarantee that you won’t get kidney stones, but there are a few steps you can take to limit your exposure.

The most important thing to do is make sure you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow colour, you need to drink more. Kidney stones are more likely to occur when urine is concentrated like this.

You should also keep your diet balanced; people who have too much protein and not enough fibre may be more at risk of kidney stones.

There are a number of other factors that you may be less able to control, such as being bed-bound, having a family history or kidney stones, having had several kidney or urinary infections in the past, and if you have only one functioning kidney.

It is sometimes hard to know what will cause a kidney stone and whilst remaining hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet are good pieces of advice, you may still find that you get kidney stones.

If you have any of the symptoms that are discussed above, go and see your GP right away.

For more information about kidney stones, including how they are diagnosed and treated, take a look at our kidney stone page.



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