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Health Condition

Kidney Stones

About This Condition

Kidney stones are hard masses that can grow from crystals forming within the kidneys. Doctors call kidney stones “renal calculi,” and the condition of having such stones “nephrolithiasis.”

Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. People with a history of kidney stone formation should talk with their doctor to learn what type of stones they have—approximately one stone in three is made of something other than calcium oxalate and one in five contains little if any calcium in any form. Calcium oxalate stone formation is rare in primitive societies, suggesting that this condition is preventable. People who have formed a calcium oxalate stone are at high risk of forming another kidney stone.

The information included in this article pertains to prevention of calcium oxalate kidney stone recurrence only—not to other kidney stones or to the treatment of acute disease. The term “kidney stone” will refer only to calcium oxalate stones. However, information regarding how natural substances affect urinary levels of calcium may also be important for people with a history of calcium phosphate stones.

Symptoms

Kidney stones often cause severe back or flank pain, which may radiate down to the groin region. Sometimes kidney stones are accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, chills, fever, and blood in urine.

Other Therapies

Lithotripsy, an ultrasound treatment that breaks the stones into pieces small enough to pass in the urine, has largely replaced surgery as the preferred method for stone removal.

References

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.