Causes

Kidney stones form when the various acids and minerals of the urine are out of balance. When this happens, your urine contains more crystal forming substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid than available fluid can dilute. At the same time, your urine may be short of substances that keep crystals from sticking together and becoming stones. This creates an environment in which kidney stones are more likely to form.

Usually, kidney stones result in no permanent damage. However, medical treatment can help prevent recurrent stones in people with increased risk. At Alpine Urology, our doctors will identify your type of kidney stone and help you understand what can be done to reduce your risk of developing additional stones.

It is common to see a number of factors, often in combination, create the conditions in which certain people develop kidney stones.

  • You are more likely to develop kidney stones if someone in your family has kidney stones.
  • If you have already had one or more kidney stones, you are at increased risk of developing another.
  • Kidney stones are most common in adults age 40 and older.
  • Men are more likely to develop kidney stones than women.
  • Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
  • Significant weight gain and obesity have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.

Our physicians are all surgeons and certified through the American Board of Urology.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of kidney stones are blood in the urine or pain. Pain severity and location of pain might vary depending on such factors as stone location and degree of obstruction. Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Inability to urinate (when the stone blocks the urinary tract)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Cloudy, foul smelling urine, fever, chills, or weakness might be a sign of a serious infection

Treatment

Most kidney stones won't require invasive treatment.

  • You may be able to pass a small stone by drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts of water per day and taking an over- the- counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
  • If your kidney stones cannot be treated with this conservative approach, our doctors will recommend a treatment that is safe and effective.
  • The majority of kidney stones, depending on their size and location, can be removed by minimally invasive techniques such as shock wave lithotripsy (SWL), ureterscopy, or percutaneous surgery.

Hydration

Hydration is a critical factor in stone prevention. Water is the recommended fluid for hydration. Some people have a hard time drinking pure water and prefer a flavor to their drink. Water may be flavored with lemonade powder, fresh squeezed lemon or other flavor enhancements. The level of fluid intake is important but most important is the amount of voided urine. Your urine should be without yellow color when you void. Ideally a stone patient would void at least 2500 ml daily.

Calcium Supplementation

Ideally, calcium goals should be met through dietary calcium sources rather than through calcium supplementation. Studies have found that dietary calcium, that is calcium found in milk, cheese or soy, has a decreased risk of stone formation when compared to calcium supplements.

Calcium citrate is the recommended calcium supplementation if needed. Many people need added calcium and Vitamin D for bone health. The citrate may decrease precipitation of calcium in the urine, and lower stone formation. The citrate may lower uric acid precipitation in the urine and lower stone formation.