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  Kidney stones

Kidney stones, one of the most painful of all urologic disorders, are not just a problem of modern life. Scientists found evidence of kidney stones in a 7,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. In 2000, patients made 2.7 million visits to health care providers and more than 600,000 patients went to emergency rooms with kidney stone problems.

Kidney Kidney stones
Kidney stones

Most kidney stones pass out of the body without any help. A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and can build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones.

Doctors do not always know what causes kidney stones. While certain foods may cause stones to form, that is only in people who are susceptible. A person with a family history of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, kidney disorders such as cystic kidney diseases, and certain metabolic disorders such as hyperparathyroidism are also linked to stone formation.

Other causes of kidney stones are hyperuricosuria (a disorder of uric acid metabolism), gout, excess intake of vitamin D, urinary tract infections, and blockage of the urinary tract. Certain diuretics or calcium-based antacids may increase the risk of forming kidney stones by increasing the amount of calcium in the urine.

Kidney stones often do not cause symptoms. Usually, the first symptom of a kidney stone is extreme pain, which occurs when a stone blocks the flow of urine. The pain often begins suddenly when a stone moves in the urinary tract. A person typically feels a sharp, cramping pain in the back and side in the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and occasionally, pain that spreads to the groin.

Surgery is not usually necessary. A simple and most important lifestyle change to prevent stones is to drink more liquids, preferably water. If you tend to form stones, you should try to drink enough liquids throughout the day to produce at least 2 quarts of urine every day.

People who form calcium stones used to be told to avoid dairy products and other foods with calcium, but recent studies have shown that foods high in calcium, including dairy products, may actually help prevent calcium stones. Taking calcium in pill form, however, may have the opposite effect, and increase the risk of developing stones.

You may be told to avoid food with added vitamin D and certain types of antacids that have added calcium. If you have very acidic urine, you may need to eat less meat, fish, and poultry, as these foods increase the amount of acid in the urine.

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