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Types of kidney stones that can affect you

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Types of Kidney Stones

Story at-a-glance -

  • There are four types of kidney stones, and distinguishing them from one another is vital in knowing why they appeared in the first place, and how you can address them effectively
  • The most common types are calcium oxalate stones (responsible for 80% of kidney stones), while cystine stones are the rarest since they’re prevalent in only 1% to 2% of kidney stones
  • If your urine contains high amounts of uric acid or is very acidic in nature, you may be at risk for developing uric acid stones

The Mayo Clinic emphasizes that identifying the type of kidney stone you have could be helpful in discovering what’s responsible for triggering this health problem. Learning about the different types of kidney stones may also allow you to know how to address them and lower your risk for developing these stones in the future.1 Here are the four types of kidney stones you should watch out for.

Calcium stones

They’re made from calcium and oxalate,2 and are considered the most common kidney stones, responsible for 80% of cases.3

A naturally occurring substance, oxalate is produced by your liver, although it’s also found in nuts, chocolate, fruits and vegetables. You can have high amounts of oxalate in your urine due to factors like your diet, increased vitamin D doses, presence of metabolic disorders or a history of intestinal bypass surgery. If high oxalate levels in your urine aren’t addressed properly, this could increase your risk for kidney stones.4

Authors of a 2018 Advances in Urology study noted that some calcium kidney stones can be composed of substances like calcium phosphate, or a combination of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate.5

Uric acid stones

If these kidney stones develop, it could be because your urine is very acidic (characterized by a pH level under 5.5) or contains too much uric acid.6 This is a chemical that the body produces once it breaks down foods containing purines.7 Examples of purine-rich foods include organ meats, beef, poultry, pork, eggs, fishes like anchovies, tuna, sardines and herring, sugary foods and drinks, and high-fat foods.8,9

Uric acid stones are responsible for 3% to 10% of kidney stone cases,10 with men being more prone to this type of kidney stone compared to women.11 Risk factors for uric acid kidney stones include:12

  • Genetic issues
  • Failure to drink adequate amounts of fluid
  • Increased fluid loss
  • Consumption of a protein- and purine-rich diet13
  • Being diagnosed with gout14 or diabetes15
  • Obesity
  • Undergoing chemotherapy16

Struvite stones

Also called infection stones or triple phosphate stones, struvite kidney stones may develop if you’re dealing with a urinary tract infection (UTI) triggered by pathogens like Proteus mirabilis, Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter, all of which produce a substance called urease.17

Struvite kidney stones are made of magnesium ammonium phosphate,18 and cause 10% to 15% of cases.19 Increased caution is needed toward these kidney stones, since they can develop without triggering symptoms,20 become large and even block your kidney, ureter or bladder.21

Cystine stones

A rare type of kidney stone that can recur,22 cystine stones occur because of a buildup of cystinuria in the urine,23 a hereditary condition24 wherein the body isn’t able to reabsorb an amino acid called cystine back into the blood. When it becomes too concentrated in your urine it can trigger stone formation.25 Only 1% to 2% of kidney stones are cystine stones, but it has to be noted that they are responsible for 6% to 8% of cases in children.26


Kidney Stones: Introduction

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney Stones Types

Kidney Stones Causes

Kidney Stones Symptoms

Kidney Stones Prevention

Kidney Stones Duration

Kidney Stones Treatment

Kidney Stones Surgery

Kidney Stones Diet

Kidney Stones FAQ

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