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What's Causing My Recurring Kidney Stones?

If you’ve had a kidney stone, you’re likely to develop another if you don’t address the causes. Typically, all you need to do is drink lots of water and change your diet. 

You might not notice small kidney stones because they usually don’t cause any symptoms. If the stones are larger, they cause pain and are dangerous if not treated quickly.

At Houston Medical ER in Houston and Spring, Texas, we’re here for you. Patients of all ages receive immediate care with minimal wait times from our highly skilled providers, which include board-certified and board-eligible physicians and registered nurses with emergency room training. 

We eliminate pain and help you recover quickly by providing medical evaluations and treatments.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are solid objects consisting of chemicals dissolved in the urine and crystallized. They vary in size from a few millimeters — about the size of a grain of rice — to several centimeters. Usually, only one kidney is affected. 

Crystals develop when your body produces too much waste in too little liquid. The crystals draw in additional substances and combine them to make a hard object that grows unless your body eliminates it through urination. 

You can flush out most kidney stones by drinking an adequate amount of healthy liquids, especially water. 

Types of kidney stones

Kidney stones are divided into different types according to their composition.

Calcium oxalate

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common, consisting of calcium mixed with oxalate in your urine. Inadequate calcium and not drinking enough water can contribute to this type of kidney stone.

Uric acid stones

Uric acid stones develop when you have too much uric acid in your urine. Your body produces uric acid by breaking down a natural chemical compound called purines. Purines are found in organ meats and shellfish. 

A diet high in purines can cause increased production of monosodium urate (uric acid crystals), which can form kidney stones. These types of stones tend to be hereditary.

Struvite stones

Struvite stones are less common and are the result of urinary tract infections.

Cystine stones

Cystine stones are the least common, caused by an excess of the amino acid cystine in the urine.

Stones can also form when the urine is very concentrated. This can occur due to heavy sweating or insufficient fluid intake. Certain medications, obesity, preexisting conditions such as gout, diabetes, chronic diarrhea, or recurring urinary tract infections also promote crystal formation.

Why do I get kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when there is an excess of dissolved salts in the urine that crystallize. The tiny crystals that form in the kidney develop into stones over time.

Possible contributing factors include:

  • Inadequate hydration
  • Excessive or insufficient activity
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss surgery
  • A diet high in salt or sugar

For certain people, a family history of kidney stones and infections may be significant. Consuming excessive amounts of fructose is associated with a higher risk of kidney stone formation. High fructose corn syrup and table sugar both include fructose.

Symptoms of kidney stones

While some kidney stones are as tiny as a single grain of sand, others might be as large as a pebble or even a golf ball. Generally, the larger the stone, the more pain you can experience.

Symptoms include:

  • Cramping
  • Stabbing pains in the flank, back, groin, or lower abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

Small kidney stones usually go unnoticed and don’t cause any symptoms. If the stones are larger, they cause pain when they enter and become lodged in the ureter. They then block the outflow of urine.

Stones are painful when they cause blockage or irritation, which becomes increasingly more painful. For small stones, pain relievers may be the only treatment you need. Other treatments may be necessary for stones that cause lasting symptoms or other complications. 

If you’re in extreme pain, you should seek immediate care at Houston Medical ER, especially if you have a fever.

How does the doctor make a diagnosis?

At Houston Medical ER, we discuss your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order appropriate testing, such as a CT scan. We aim to eliminate pain and treat the underlying cause as quickly as possible. 

Houston Medical ER is open every day of the week, 24 hours a day. We provide high-quality emergency care delivered by board-certified ER specialists. Contact us today or simply walk into the closest Houston Medical ER center.

For any medical procedure, patients respond to treatment differently, hence each patient's results may vary.
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