As it has been mentioned in other articles, kidney stones – or renal calculi- are solid rocks made of different components that always take the shape of crystals. Their size and color can vary depending on the type and causes of the formation, however, most of them are formed in the kidneys, though sometimes they can be originated anywhere in the urinary tract (bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra).
Kidney stones are described as one of the most painful medical conditions, commonly affecting the urinary tract and generating a highly uncomfortable feeling for the person who is suffering from them. Given the fact that it is a common affliction, many studies have been done on the subject and a rigorous classification of the different types of stones already exists and it is based on the components forming the rocks.
In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share some detailed information related to the four different types of kidney stones that have been already classified by scientists: calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine.
Kidney Stones Classification
For patients who have already had kidney stones, it is very probable that they will develop them again. For this reason, it becomes very important to determine exactly what your stones are made of, that way you will be able to prevent the further formation of these obnoxious crystals.
The best way you have to identify the type of kidney stone your body is creating, is by using a filter when you urinate, this way you will be able to retain the stone and take it to your doctor so it can analyze it and define what type of kidney stone it is. Probably after testing the rock, your doctor will order you blood and urine tests to measure components in both fluids that can be enhancing the generation of kidney stones. Based on your results, your doctor will tell you which component has a higher concentration in your urine and is responsible for the creation of the crystals.
Kidney stones are not always made of the same components. Below you will find a classification of the different types of kidney stones.
– Calcium: The vast majority of kidney stone patients suffer from calcium stones. This is the most common type of crystal formation, affecting 80% of patients who have had kidney stones. They are made of calcium compounds such as calcium oxalate, phosphate or maleate. There are different health conditions that can cause the formation of these rocks, like hyperparathyroidism.
Having a diet heavy in foods rich in oxalate can cause the development of calcium kidney stones. These foods include potato chips, chocolate, spinach, and peanuts. However, there are some medicines that can help patients prevent the formation of calcium crystals.
– Uric Acid: Being most commonly developed by men than women, this type of stone is originated when the urine is too acidic. Often, this type of renal calculi can be developed by individuals suffering of gout, inflammatory bowel disease or going through chemotherapy.
Uric acid is a waste product that should get out or our bodies in the urine. When bodies are not able to eliminate this waste product, kidney stones are originated. Usually, this happens when you have a low urine output or a diet heavy in animal protein (especially red meat) and alcohol.
This type of renal calculi can also be treated with medicine which can help dissolving the crystals.
– Struvite: Causes mainly in women with urinary tract infection, this type of stone can be responsible for urinary obstruction, causing a terrible pain for patients who have developed struvite crystals.
People with kidney infections are the most prone to develop struvite stones, thanks to this, they are called infection stones. For this reason, it is very important to treat urinary tract infections properly and in time. Otherwise, the infection can become a more serious medical condition aggravated by kidney sore.
This type of stone is found generally in women with urinary tract infections. These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. These stones are usually developed thanks to a kidney infection. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.
Medicine can be used to treat the urinary tract infection, nevertheless, in most cases, struvite stones need to be surgically removed with laser procedures.
– Cystine: This is the most uncommon type of renal calculi, occurring only in individuals who suffer from the genetic disorder of cystinuria. This medical condition enhances the leaks of cysteine – a chemical substance that is normally produced in the body- from the kidneys into the urine. As it is a genetic condition, if you have a close relative who suffers from cystinuria, it is important for you to regularly test your urine and make sure that all levels are fine.
Cystine crystals can be prevented or dissolved with medicine, however, if the stone is too big and is blocking the urinary tract, it will need to be removed.
To read more about the different types of kidney stones and what originates them, you can click here.
As you can see, there are many things that can cause the creation of kidney stones, and there are different types of crystal formations that can be prevented. It is important for individuals to have healthy habits such a regular consumption of liquid (2 liters per day) and a healthy diet, especially if they already have a kidney disease that requires a special diet. It is important to notice that no one is exempt from getting renal calculi, therefore we all should try to prevent developing them.