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What are Kidney Stones?

Nephrolithiasis, or more commonly known as kidney stones, are hard crystalline minerals formed in the kidney or urinary tract. At some point in their life, one in 20 people develop kidney stones at one point their lifetime.

There are four types of kidney stones. They come in different sizes and forms, from as small as a grain of sand to even the size of a golf ball. The stones grow larger in size when there is a build up of chemicals inside the body.

Calcium stones, as the name suggests, are build ups of calcium and are the most common type of kidney stone. This can form from a defective parathyroid gland (which regulates calcium levels in the body) and diseases such as hypercalcuria (causing large amount of calcium in urine), kidney disease, sarcoidosis (red patches of swollen tissue in the organs), and cancer.

Cystine stones are yellow crystalline stones formed from cysteine, which is an amino acid that aids in building protein. The rarest stone, they occur due to cystinuria, an inherited condition that affects acid levels passed in your urine.

Struvite stones are large horn-shaped stones formed from magnesium and ammonia. They usually form after a UTI and are more common in women than men.

Uric Acid Stones – Smooth brown stones formed from urid acid, which is waste product produced during digestion. They form when you undergo a high-protein diet, gout, and chemotherapy.

Individuals who are inactive, has a family history of kidney stones, has had a kidney stone before, only one functioning kidney, an intestinal bypass.

Some types of medication may also increase the risk of getting kidney stones such as aspirin, certain antibiotics, anti-epileptic medication, antiretroviral medication, antacids, and diuretics.

Oftentimes minute kidney stones go undetected without many symptoms present. Usually, they pass out painlessly when you urinate. However, if you experience some discomfort or restlessness, your condition is probably serious.

Other symptoms of kidney stones include continuous ache on the lower back and groin (for men, including their testicles and scrotum), acute pain on the back or side of abdomen, nausea, urinating more frequently, dysuria (pain when urinating), and haematuria (blood in urine).

These symptoms normally happen when the stones get stuck in the kidney or when it tries to pass through the ureter or urethra, causing a blockage that can lead to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).