Increase Your Knowledge About Kidney Stones: An Introduction

woman in kidney stone pain

Story at-a-glance -

  • Kidney stones are lumps of hard mass that develop when crystals detach from urine inside the urinary tract
  • Learn more about what kidney stones are, what they are typically made of, the signs you should be on the lookout for and the simple and inexpensive ways to prevent them

If you've experienced a sharp pain on your side and back right below the ribs,1 you might have kidney stones.2 These are lumps of hard mass that develop when crystals detach from urine inside the urinary tract.

Some stones can be as small as a grain of sand, but there are kidney stones that grow to be as large as a pearl or even a golf ball.3,4

Kidney stones aren't just agonizing, but they could also get stuck in the ureter (responsible for carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and obstruct proper urine flow, especially if they are large.5 This anecdote from a commenter on CNN.com describes how painful these stones are:6

I'm a mom of [four] children, and I've had [one] kidney stone. I'd rather have [four] more children than have [one] more kidney stone.

Important Numbers on Kidney Stones

Statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) revealed that half a million people end up in the emergency room yearly because of kidney stones. The NKF also estimates that at least 1 in 10 Americans will develop a kidney stone during his or her lifetime.7

Kidney stones are more prevalent in men, as they have a lifetime incidence of nearly 13 percent, with Caucasian men being the most prone to stones compared to other ethnic groups.8 Meanwhile, kidney stone lifetime incidence is lower for women at a 7 percent rate.9,10

While men and women between 30 to 60 years old are typically affected with kidney stones, people as young as 20 may already experience this condition.11,12 Alarmingly, kidney stone specialists have also noticed rising cases of kidney stones among infants, children and teenagers in recent years.13

Aside from the physical pain they cause, kidney stones are a major burden to a patient's wallet. A study published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology said that annual estimates for kidney stones surpass $5 billion, which covers direct treatment costs for the stones and indirect costs linked with lost worker productivity.14

How to Combat Kidney Stones

Although kidney stones could be challenging to treat, certain methods enable the stones to dissolve within the body and be released through your urine.15 However, it still pays to be vigilant when it comes to conventional remedies, since there are some that could trigger complications.

These pages will help you learn more about what kidney stones are, what they are typically made of, the signs you should be on the lookout for and the simple and inexpensive ways to prevent them. In no time, you'll be able to provide your body with the ample defense that'll stop kidney stones from forming in the first place.

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