Anyone can develop a kidney stone, but they are much more common in men and people between the ages of 30 and 60. While kidney stones don’t typically pose a serious health risk when diagnosed and treated, as many as half a million people visit the emergency room every year due to kidney stone related pain and symptoms, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
4 types of kidney stones
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of kidney stones and their symptoms, when to see a urologist for your symptoms, and what you can do to prevent or lower your risk of developing kidney stones.
Kidney stones form when minerals in your urine crystalize and harden into rocks (they can develop anywhere in the urinary tract). Calcium accounts for the majority of kidney stones. High calcium and oxalate (or phosphate) levels in your urine lead to this type of kidney stone. Diet typically plays a prominent role in the formation of calcium-based kidney stones.
Uric acid kidney stones develop due to higher than normal acidity levels in your urine and a build up of uric acid. They can also form with calcium, and while eating a diet high in animal protein and organ meats is a common factor in developing this type of kidney stone, there is also a hereditary factor.
Struvite stones are caused by bacterial activity in your urinary tract. They only account for approximately 10% to 15% of all kidney stones, and this type tends to be more common in women and sometimes develops along with urinary tract infections.
This is a rare type of kidney stone caused by a condition known as cystinuria, which causes cystine to leak into your urine and eventually form a kidney stone. Cystinuria is a hereditary condition, and this is the least common type of kidney stone.
Signs and symptoms of kidney stones
The type of kidney stone you have is determined through urine samples, diagnostic imaging, and blood tests, but all symptoms are similar. The most common symptoms of a kidney stone include:
- Sharp pain in your side or back
- Radiating pain in your lower abdomen or groin area
- Painful urination/burning sensation while urinating
- Dark-colored urine (red, brown, pink)
- Urine that looks cloudy or has a foul odor
- More frequent urination or difficulty urinating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Signs of infection like a fever
Schedule an appointment with one of our urologists right away if you have significant pain that interferes with your daily routine and physical activity, notice blood in your urine, or have any signs of infection including fever, vomiting, and chills.
Small kidney stones can pass on their own. Depending on the size, type, location of the kidney stone, and your symptoms, our urologists may recommend treatment with one of the outpatient procedures available at Comprehensive Urology:
- Shockwave therapy
- Laser stone ablation
- Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PCNL)
Depending on your lifestyle, family history, and health profile, our urologists can also recommend diet and lifestyle modifications to help you maintain a healthy weight and manage your risk of developing kidney stones in the future.
For more information about kidney stone prevention and treatment, contact Comprehensive Urology today to schedule an consultation with a urologist by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.