What is the cause of kidney stones?
Kidney stones, which are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys and affect the urinary tract, have no single cause.
They form when the urine contains more crystal-forming substances (eg, calcium, oxalate and uric acid) than can be dilated by the fluid in the urine and/or when the urine does not have the substances that prevent crystals from sticking together.
The lifetime risk for kidney stones among adults in the U.S. is estimated to be 9% (with men more likely to develop them than women), and certain factors increase this risk.
Common risk factors include:
- a family or personal history of kidney stones;
- diets containing a high consumption of protein, sodium and sugar;
- metabolic disorders;
- obesity/high BMI;
- digestive diseases (eg, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea);
- certain medications (eg, topiramate for seizures);
- intestinal surgery (eg, gastric bypass surgery); and
- urinary tract infections.
Medical attention should be sought immediately if one experiences severe pain (especially when accompanied by nausea and vomiting and/or fever and chills), blood in the urine or difficulty passing urine.
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