An introduction to kidney stones

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  • Kidney stones are hard and solid masses that may develop because of the presence of calcium, oxalate and uric acid in your urine
  • They may be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball
  • Men are more prone to develop kidney stones compared to women
  • People with kidney stones often experience pain, and may need to spend large sums of money to address their condition

Kidney stones are hard1 and solid masses2 that develop due to the increased presence of calcium, oxalate and uric acid in your urine,3 and at the same time, because of reduced quantities of or a lack of water, which is needed to dilute these stone-forming substances.4

The University of Michigan highlights that some kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand, or as big as a pearl.5 Aside from being painful, they can be trapped in your urinary tract, disrupting proper urine flow.6 If you’ve experienced excruciating pain on your side and back, this may be a sign that you have kidney stones.7

Statistics on kidney stones

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), kidney stones result in emergency room trips for half a million people in the U.S. annually. The organization also estimates that at least 1 in 10 people will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime.8

In the U.S. men are twice as likely to have kidney stones as women, with a 12% lifetime risk for this issue. Women may also develop kidney stones, although their lifetime risk is only 6%.9 In terms of ethnicity, a 2010 Reviews in Urology article found that Caucasian men are most prone to developing kidney stones, while Asian women had the lowest risk for this health problem.10

While men and women between 30 and 50 years old are typically affected with kidney stones,11people as young as 20 also experience this condition.12 In some instances, kidney stones may even develop among infants, children and teenagers.13,14

Aside from excruciating pain, kidney stones are a major financial burden. A study published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology in 2014 highlighted that annual estimates for kidney stones surpass $5 billion, with this amount covering “direct treatment costs for the stones and indirect costs linked with lost worker productivity.”15

How to combat kidney stones

Although kidney stones can be challenging to address, there are methods that can dissolve them in your body so they can then be released through your urine.16 However, it still pays to be vigilant when it comes to conventional remedies, as some can trigger complications.

These pages will help you learn more about what kidney stones are, what they are typically made of and signs to look out for. Find out how you can provide your body with ample defenses to stop kidney stones from forming in the first place.

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