Kidney Stones – What Are They Made of and How Do They Form?

The question that is asked most is ….. "What Are They and How Are They Formed?" In order to learn how to avoid kidney stones, we must first explore what they are. By knowing what they are, we can then know the steps to take to avoid them or to learn how to get rid of or dissolve them naturally.

Normal urine contains predictable amounts of calcium, magnesium uric acid, and other byproducts of metabolism (waste). These are the types of chemicals that doctors look for when they perform an urinalysis. Under certain conditions these chemicals may crystallize and form particles in the kidney. These particles are called calculi. Once these particles are formed, they stimulate the crystallization process forming more stones or increasing the size of the stones.

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. They can be smooth, round, jagged, spiky and asymmetrical. The chemical composition of the stones can produce stones that are yellow, brown, tan, gold or black. Gallstones are not related to them. If you have gallstones, you are not necessarily more likely to develop them or vice a versus.

Kidney stones (the medical terms is nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are one of the most painful of the urologic disorders and one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. Classic symptoms are an excruciating pain on the flank side, coming in waves, radiating down to the lower abdomen and groin area.

The pain can be caused by the kidney actually swelling due to the build up of fluid and damage to the kidney from the stone itself. The most intense pain comes as the stones makes it way down the ureter with the smooth, involuntary muscles pushing the stone along. Renal colic forms as the stone encounters resistance and this is what makes the passage of a stone so painful.

There may or may not be blood in the urine (hematuria), with the blood maybe appearing dark and / or cloudy and have a strong odor. There also may be nausea, vomiting (which can cause dehydration and lessen the ability to pass a stone), chills, fever, elevated blood pressure, burning sensation, urgent need to urinate frequently, and sweating. It is very important to watch for the development of fever since a fever can indicate an infection behind the stone and can lead to sepsis.

If they are too large, you can not eliminate them on your own, because they may block urine flow causing the kidneys to swell. They develop slowly and often give little warning until they reach a stage where they produce acute symptoms. You can possibly find silent stones on a routine exam with an x-ray.

There are five types of kidney stones based upon the stone's chemical composition, but two are usually linked together since both contain calcium. Overall, there are at least 20 chemical substances that have been reported in them.