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Kidney Stones 411: What They Are and How They Form?

Kevin Cleary

As we age, we encounter a plethora of health issues that cause pain and discomfort. One of the more painful ones you can experience is kidney stones. Innocuous items such as minerals and other compounds in our urine can form these small deposits that need to be extruded from our bodies. Anyone who has experienced a kidney stone knows first-hand how painful it can be. HPFY has all the important information you need about what they are and how they form.

Anatomy of a Kidney Stone

Kidney stones are also known as renal or urinary stones but make no mistake they can completely ruin your day. They are small, hard deposits that can form in one or both of your kidneys. They need to be expelled from your body by traveling through ducts from your kidney to your bladder, through your urethra, and out of your body. These crystallized particles can be sharp and irritating while passing. This process takes anywhere from days to weeks to play out and can cause abdominal or back pain.

Anatomy of a Kidney Stone

Types of Kidney Stones

The four main types of stones include -

  • Calcium - 75% of all stones are primarily made of calcium
  • Uric Acid - A waste product in urine
  • Cystine - Stones made from a protein building block
  • Struvite - Made from a phosphate mineral

Basically, kidney or renal stones form when there are more of these compounds that can be dissolved in the urine. According to the NIH, this imbalance can be caused by an increased amount of material in urine, a reduction of liquid urine, or a combination of both. This concentration of minerals is the foundation for kidney stones to form.

Development of Kidney Stones

Diet, being overweight, and even some supplements/medications can cause kidney stones to form. So how do you know if you have developed kidney stones? Kidney stones affect the urinary tract and normally won’t give any symptoms unless they are on the move (either in your kidneys or your ureters.) Passing a stone can be quite painful but normally cause no permanent damage. A stone can get lodged in your ureter if the stone measures approximately 5 mm or larger.


Symptoms of Kidney Stones

The Mayo Clinic identifies symptoms of a kidney stone as-

  • Severe, sharp pain in the side/back
  • Pain/burning during urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen/groin
  • Pink/reddish urine
  • Persistent need to urinate

These symptoms can be accompanied by fever or chills if an infection is present. Also, if a stone lodges in your ureter and blocks urine this can result in swelling of the kidney and cause your ureter to spasm. This can also be extremely painful.

Often if you are suffering from these symptoms and your doctor suspects kidney stones are the culprit you may be told to take pain medication and drink plenty of water to pass these urinary stones. You may require surgery if these stones become lodged in the urinary tract or cause infection.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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