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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common reasons to see a urologist

The pain of a kidney stone is often sudden and severe causing a panicked rush to the emergency room. The pain has been described as worse than child-birth and often occurs at the most inopportune times. Patients often ask why kidney stones form and how to prevent them. There is a plethora of urban legends and folk treatments for possible causes and treatments of kidney stones. In fact, the cause of kidney stones is different for every person and prevention strategies have to be individualized. At NAU Urology Specialists, we are committed to keeping you stone-free, reducing the downtime from a kidney stone episode and providing surgical treatment when necessary in a way that prevents complications.

About kidney stones

Kidney stones are usually small hard crystals that form inside the kidneys. There are several different types of stones that form with different properties. For small stones, however, there is a common cause of an imbalance between the amount of mineral and the amount of water that is available to dissolve the mineral. This is why dehydration is one risk factor for the development of stones.

The various types of stones have different causes.

Calcium stones are the most common type of stone and occur most often in men in their 20’s and 30’s. They are very likely to recur. The cause of these stones is an imbalance in the amount of calcium in the urine (which is independent of calcium in the diet) and the level of oxalate. Hydration status is also a very important factor.

  • Uric acid stones are the second most common type of stone and occur frequently in men with an elevated uric acid level in the blood or urine.
  • Cystine stones can form in people who have cystinuria, a genetic disorder that runs in families.
  • Struvite stones are caused by urinary tract infections and occur more often in women. They can become very large and cause severe damage to the kidneys. The stone can be analyzed once it has passed.

Once a stone forms in the kidney, it can stay in place for many years and even grow bigger. Once a stone decides to move (like while you are on vacation or right before your wedding) it must move out of the kidney into the ureter (the tube that joins the kidney to the bladder), pass into the bladder and then out of the urethra (the tube that urine passes throughout of the body). The ureter is much smaller than the urethra and the most commonplace is that stones become lodged and cause pain.

Many kidney stones are small enough to pass through the urinary tract on their own and treatment is not required. Larger stones can cause pain, bleeding, fever or infection.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Austin Specialists.