You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

What causes kidney stones and how to get rid of them - and what to eat to prevent them

Mirror logo Mirror 24/2/2018 Jo-Anne Rowney

© Provided by Shutterstock Passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful things you can do - apart from childbirth.

Now a new study published this week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that they’re becoming more common.

Part of the increase is down to the way doctors monitor stones - they used a CT scan rarely before, but the rise in the technology meant they found the stones easier.

It's not all down to the tests though.

Kidney stones can develop in anyone - and in one or both kidneys, but what actually causes them?

They're quite common, with about three in 20 men and up to two in 20 women developing them at some point.

Most often people aged 30 to 60 are affected by them.

a close up of a piece of bread: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

Symptoms

Kidney stones, medically known as nephrolithiasis, cause severe pain, also known as renal colic.

Small stones can go undetected - but they can be passed out when you wee, according to the NHS. It's fairly common for a stone to block part of the urinary system.

If you're suffering from a blockage you'll have severe pain in the abdomen or groin - it can also sometimes cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Half the people who have had kidney stones will experience them again within five years of having them.

Look out for:

  • Ache in your lower back, sometimes in the groin - men can have a pain in their testicles and scrotum
  • Periods of intense pain in the back or side of your abdomen
  • Feeling restless and unable to lie still
  • Nausea
  • Needing to urinate more
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Blood in your urine

What causes kidney stones?

Waste products in the blood can occasionally form crystals that collect inside the kidney.

Over time they build up and form hard stone-like lumps.

If you don't drink enough fluids it's more likely to happen. If you're taking some types of medication or if you have a condition that raises levels of certain substances in your urine it can also raise the risk.

The rise in kidney stones - mostly calcium stones - is also down to a change in diet. Stones are helped along by diets high in fat, sugar and salt.

Race also played a factor in the findings. Nearly 90 per cent of kidney stones happen in white people.

File photo (Image: Getty) © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc File photo (Image: Getty)

What causes kidney stones:

  • calcium
  • ammonia
  • uric acid – a waste product produced when the body breaks down food to use as energy
  • cysteine – an amino acid that helps to build protein

People who have the following are likely to get recurring kidney stones:

  • eat a high-protein, low-fibre diet
  • are inactive or bed-bound
  • have a family history of kidney stones
  • have had several kidney or urinary infections
  • have had a kidney stone before, particularly if it was before you were 25
  • have only one fully working kidney
  • have had an intestinal bypass

Medication that makes it more likely

  • aspirin

  • antacids

  • diuretics (used to reduce fluid build-up)

  • certain antibiotics

  • certain antiretroviral medication (used to treat HIV)

  • certain anti-epileptic medication

How to get rid of them

Smaller stones will pass when you go to the toilet in your urine.

Larger stones may need breaking up. Doctors use an ultrasound or laser energy to do this, but sometimes keyhole surgery is needed to remove the very large stones.

What to eat?

If your stone is caused by too much calcium you need to reduce the amount of oxalates in your diet.

They prevent calcium being absorbed into your body.

a close up of pink flowers: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty Foods that contain oxalates are:

  • Beetroot
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Leeks
  • Chocolate
Credits: Cultura Exclusive © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Cultura Exclusive
  • Berries
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Almonds, peanuts and cashew nuts
  • Soy products
  • Grains, such as oatmeal, wheat germ and wholewheat

Always check with your doctor before you change your diet.

How to avoid them

Credits: Photolibrary RM © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Photolibrary RM Drink plenty of water everyday. A good test is to check if your urine is diluted (clear) to prevent waste products forming into kidney stones.

Types of Stones

Calcium Stones

They if there's too much calcium in the urine. They're usually either large and smooth or spiky and rough.

Struvite Stones

Often caused by infections and most commonly occur after a urinary tract infection.

More common in women than men.

Uric acid stones

They can form if there's a large amount of acid in your urine. If you have a high-protein diet or a condition like gout.

Cystine stones

Rarest type of kidney stone. It's caused by an inherited condition called cystinuria.

in Pictures: 30 high fiber foods that should be in your diet

More from The Mirror

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon