What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are deposits of minerals and salts that form in the kidneys and along the urinary tract. They develop when the patient has a decrease in urinary volume or an increase in substances that form the stones. Approximately one in every twenty individuals will develop a kidney stone at some point during their lives, and risk factors for these stones include dehydration, obesity, and diet. Kidney stones can be made of calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, or cystine. Patients have reported nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and blood in the urine with kidney stones. They might feel an urge to urinate frequently, and it is common to pass very small amounts of urine when a stone is present. Although small stones might not cause pain or any noticeable symptoms, larger stones are typically associated with severe pain on one side of the back or abdomen. Doctors use blood tests and imaging studies to diagnose kidney stones, and treatments such as lithotripsy, tunnel surgery, or ureteroscopy may be suggested.

The major causes of kidney stones are described below.

Too Much Vitamin D

RushUniversityMedicalCenter

Patients who take too much vitamin D may be at an elevated risk of developing kidney stones. Vitamin D increases the body's absorption of calcium, and an accumulation of excess calcium in the urine could trigger the formation of stones. Scientists are currently studying the possible link between vitamin D and kidney stones, and current evidence suggests individuals who take the recommended doses of vitamin D have a very low risk of kidney stones. Researchers are studying the effects higher doses of vitamin D might have on kidney stone formation, and they advise all patients to ask their healthcare provider about a safe level of vitamin D intake for their overall health status. When calculating vitamin D intake, patients need to account for vitamin D supplements and any vitamin D that might be found naturally in their diet. Individuals who are unsure of their vitamin D levels may wish to consider having a blood test to measure this. Most major health organizations recommend that healthy adults consume four to eight hundred international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. Some studies suggest consuming between one to two thousand international units per day is optimal, however, consuming more than four thousand international units per day is considered unsafe.

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Emily Fowler
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