18 Kidney Stone Facts You Need To See To Believe
How much do you actually know about kidney stones? You know they hurt.
You know you don’t want to get one… but do you actually know how big they can get, what they are made up of, what type of infection has all the same symptoms, or what surprising food group may be to blame? Luckily for you, you will know those answers in just a minute.
Below you will find 18 interesting facts about kidney stones. By the time you are done, you will be the kidney stone expert.
Fact #1: The official name for kidney stones is renal calculus or nephrolith
Both the word renal and the prefix nephro- mean, “relating to the kidneys.” So when somebody has a kidney stone, it is often said they have nephrolithiasis.
Fact #2: Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand
Small stones often are passed on their own without medical intervention.
Doctors use what they call the “watch and wait” method. You will wait and see if natural passing is possible, but if any complication arises, you will head to your doctor for treatment.
Fact #3: Kidney stones can be as large as a Ping-Pong ball
Stones of this size are rare (thank goodness!). They will have to be removed through medical intervention. Sometimes doctors will surgically remove them. Other times, they will use medical devices to break the large stone into many little pieces for easier passing.
Fact #4: There are many types of kidney stones
Though all kidney stones form when there is too much of a stone-forming substance in the urine, not all those substances are the same.
There are actually four main types of kidney stones:
- Calcium stones: These are the most common and normally a combination of calcium and oxalate
- Uric acid stones: Uric acid is a waste product; if too much collects in your urine, you may get this type of stone
- Struvite stones: If you just had a UTI (or another infection), you might get this stone
- Cystine stones: This genetic stone comes from an amino acid that leaks from the kidneys and gets into the urine
Some people are prone to one kind, but some people can develop different kinds throughout their lives.
Fact #5: Eating calcium-rich foods won’t give you calcium stones
Once people realize that calcium stones are the #1 type of kidney stone, they often nix calcium from their diet.
This is exactly what you should not do. Calcium is necessary for a healthy body, including healthy kidneys. Instead, you should limit a substance called oxalate, which is found in some fruits and vegetables (as well as chocolate).
Fact #6: The #1 kidney stone symptom is pain
Nobody said these little stones were fun! Some people even say passing a kidney stone is worse than going through labor. You will often feel this pain in your:
- Lower abdominal area
Fact # 7: Other kidney stone symptoms are just like UTI symptoms
You know how UTIs leave you with that painful burning urination, where you feel like you have to go all the time, but very little comes out? Same goes for kidney stones.
If you are not sure which you have, go to your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Fact #8: You may have passed kidney stones without knowing it
Kidney stones may be known for their severe pain, but not every single kidney stone has any symptoms. Some people pass very tiny kidney stones without ever realizing it.
You may have passed one today!
Fact #9: Men get more kidney stones than women
Sorry, guys! Somewhere around 11% of men will get a kidney stone (or multiple) in their lifetime, but only 6% of all women do too.
Fact #10: One herb is so helpful with kidney stones, its name literally means “stone breaker”
Chanca Piedra has been used for many, many years to help people prevent and treat kidney stones. While you can drink it in tea form, taking a Chanca Piedra supplement can give you the concentrated dose you need to help dissolve your kidney stone. This is a great support for those in the “watch and wait” time.
Fact #11: Water is a kidney stone’s enemy
Kidney stones form when there are too many stone-forming substances (like uric acid, for example) in the urine.
The more water you drink, the more you “water down” your urine and prevent that high concentration from ever being a problem.
Fact #12: Your weight does affect kidney stone creation
It may seem like what you weigh has nothing to do with whether or not stones from in your urine, but it actually does. Many studies have shown that being overweight can up the odds of developing kidney stones. Don’t crash diet though. Meet with a dietician and/or personal trainer to learn how to start bringing down those extra pounds safely.
Fact #13: If you’ve had one before, you just might have one again
Once you’ve had one kidney stone, your risk of developing another jumps up quite a bit. In the 5-year window after your first kidney stone, you have a 50% chance of getting another one.
Fact #15: Animal protein may be to blame
Studies have shown that people who eat more animal protein have more stones. When they eat less animal protein, the chance decreases. So if you are a kidney stone sufferer, going meat-free a few days a week can be greatly beneficial.
Fact #16: Certain medical problems make you more susceptible
Diseases like IBS or IBD, Celiac, Crohn’s, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, and more can make your chance of developing kidney stones go up. Getting your condition under control, eating healthy foods, and staying well hydrated can help you out.
Fact #17: Kidney stones while pregnant are rare, but still happen
If you get a kidney stone while pregnant, make sure to visit your doctor right away. Complications are possible, so you will need to discuss all of your options. You still may just pass it naturally on your own, or you may need some baby-safe medical intervention.
Fact #18: Children can get kidney stones too
All these interesting facts about kidney stones can apply to your kids too. As sad as it is to think of a little one experiencing the intense pain of a kidney stone, it is important to realize the real possibility. Though still considered “rare”, pediatric kidney stones are actually on the rise. So if your child exhibits any of the symptoms, head to their pediatrician’s office right away.
Understanding Kidney Stones
By now, you should have a much better understanding of kidney stones. If you have suffered from them in the past, you’ve hopefully gained some knowledge to know how to avoid another in the future.
If you’ve never had one, you can know what to look out for if you, a family member – or even your child – develops one of these little (sometimes!), painful (but not always!) stones.