What causes kidney stones

What causes kidney stones

What Causes Kidney Stones?


Kidney stones are solid mineral deposits that form inside the kidneys. These stones can form anywhere along the urinary tract.

Although kidney stones often lead to excruciating pain, they usually don’t leave any irreversible complications.

According to one study, kidney stones affect 12% of the general population in their lifetime.

In this article, we will briefly cover the signs and symptoms of having a kidney stone, then discuss the primary causes of this condition.

Symptoms of kidney stones

The clinical presentation of kidney stones is quite diverse and include the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain – mainly in the lower side of the back
  • Dysuria –burning sensation when peeing
  • Blood in urine
  • Urinary urgency – the sudden urge to pee
  • Pollakiuria/polyuria – increased frequency or quantity of urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills

The causes of kidney stones

To effectively treat kidney stones, your doctor will need to identify the location of the obstruction, as well as the type of stone that formed in your kidney.

Generally speaking, kidney stones form when urine is too concentrated. Consequently, crystal-forming substances such as calcium, phosphorus, and uric acid, will pile up to form one big stone.

Here are the most common type of kidney stones:

Calcium stones

This is the most common type of kidney stone. Typically, calcium molecules aggregate together with oxalate to form calcium oxalate.

Therefore, any condition that augments the levels of calcium or oxalate in the blood can precipitate kidney stones.

Uric acid stones

As the name implies, uric acid stones get formed when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. All conditions that increase the concentration of uric acid can lead to the formation of this type of kidney stones.

Struvite stones

This type of stone is also known as infection stone.

It usually occurs after a urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by a urease-producing organism (e.g., Proteus mirabilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae).

This enzyme will hydrolyze urea, leading to a spike in urine pH (above 8.5). as a result, it becomes more favorable for phosphorus to aggregate and form kidney stones.

Doctors are especially worried about struvite stones since they can grow exponentially in a short period of time.

Cystine stones

When the kidneys excrete excessive amounts of a substance called cystine (formed by the association of two cysteine amino acids), kidney stones will form because of the aggregation of these substances.

This medical condition is referred to as cystinuria, which is an inherited disorder. Because of the genetic component of this disease, patients present with their first kidney stone at an early age relative to other stone types. In fact, even children can develop cystine stones.

Takeaway message

Kidney stones occur in a large number of the population, causing severe pain and urinary symptoms.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this article.