Kidney stones are extremely painful and relatively common, affecting a little over 10% of people. For most people, if they’re lucky, a kidney stone is a one-time occurrence. For others, however, recurrent kidney stones are a serious problem.
While kidney stones usually pass without further complication and pose no greater health risk, the pain is often debilitating. Dealing with recurrent kidney stones is severely damaging to one’s quality of life.
If you suffer from recurrent kidney stones, understanding their cause can help prevent future occurrences. But there could be several different causes for recurrent kidney stones.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
First, let’s look at what causes kidney stones to develop.
A kidney stone is a build-up of crystalized minerals in the urinary tract. These minerals are usually flushed out naturally by fluids as part of the digestive process. But sometimes, they can clump together and crystalize. This makes them very difficult to flush out of the system.
The resulting kidney stone then moves slowly through the urinary tract. This causes severe pain and discomfort. However, as that pain moves, the kidney stone is closer to being passed through the system.
As for what causes kidney stones in the first place, there is no single answer. However, several factors can cause a kidney stone to develop. Kidney stones often develop due to a combination of several factors, rather than one specific factor. Some of these factors include:
- Urinary tract infections and certain digestive disorders
- Diet, specifically diets high in protein, sodium, or sugar
- Certain supplements and medications, particularly calcium-based supplements.
What Causes Recurrent Kidney Stones?
When any of the above risk factors are left untreated or unmanaged, recurrent kidney stones can develop. For instance, maintaining a diet that is rich in protein and sodium, while also not hydrating properly, can lead to multiple, recurrent kidney stones. This is just one example, of course.
There are also a few uncommon genetic conditions that can cause recurrent kidney stones. Cystinuria and primary hyperoxaluria are a pair of disorders that can cause minerals to crystallize more often in the urinary tract. Other conditions, like Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis, can all increase the risk of kidney stones as well.
How to Avoid Recurrent Kidney Stones
The steps to avoiding recurrent kidney stones will vary depending on what their cause is. For people whose nutrition causes them to experience recurrent kidney stones, a few simple dietary changes are all that’s needed.
In many cases, the simplest step to preventing kidney stones is to improve hydration habits. Dehydration may not be the ultimate cause of all kidney stones. But proper hydration cuts down the risk of developing kidney stones dramatically.
Doctors may also recommend dietary changes in some cases. As mentioned, diets that are high in protein, sugar, and sodium (or a combination of all three) can increase the risk of kidney stones.
For others, medication may be required to reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones. A doctor may prescribe various types of medication depending on the type of kidney stones you experience.
Kidney Stone Symptoms and Treatment
The most common kidney stone symptoms are often unmistakable and impossible to miss. They include:
- Severe, sharp pain in lower back and abdomen.
- Pain that fluctuates or moves throughout the abdomen
- Burning during urination
- Changes in urine color or odor
- Nausea or vomiting
The treatment for kidney stones usually is to drink water, take pain relievers, and wait for the stone to pass. In the case of large or infected stones, medical operations may be used to remove or dissolve the stone.