What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are hard formations made of minerals and salts that build up and deposit inside your kidneys or any part of your urinary tract from the kidneys down to the urinary bladderPassing a kidney stone can be very painful. Usually when your urine becomes concentrated, the minerals and salts can stick to each other and form crystals and stones.

In this video I will review the cause, symptoms of kidney stones, and how to early detect them to avoid complications to your kidney and health.


There are many causes that can increase the risk of forming kidney stones, for example certain medical conditions, restricted diets, excess body weight, gland problems.

Anything that will cause high amounts of certain substances in your urine, such as calcium, oxalate or uric acid, will cause these substances to concentrate and form crystals and stones, especially if you are not drinking enough amounts of fluids to dilute these substances.

This becomes worse if you have risk factors for stones formation, such as:

Personal history or family history of kidney stonesDehydration: when you don’t drink enough water and fluids, your urine becomes concentrated, and stones will form easilyCertain diets and foods: High protein diets, too much salt, and sugar can increase your risk of forming stones. This is because they increase the amount of calcium going to the kidneys leading to formation of calcium stones.Excess weight and obesity both increase the risk of kidney stonesSome surgeries such as gastric bypass, as well as inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea can affect how much water and calcium your body absorbs, therefore causing stonesCertain hormonal imbalances such as hyperparathyroidism can cause stonesSupplements and medications such as too much vitamin C, laxative abuse, calcium-basedantacids can increase your risk of stones


A kidney stone will not usually cause symptoms until it moves around the kidney or passes into the ureter (which is the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder)

Common symptoms include:

Severe sharp pain in the side and the flanks below the ribsPain that travels to the lower abdomen and groinPain that comes in waves Pain or burning sensation during urinationSometimes you may see pink or red urine which is caused by the stone injuring the urinary tractSometimes your urine may be cloudy or have a bad smellIf stone infection happens, you may also develop fever and chills


When a kidney stone is suspected, your doctor may perform tests and procedures such as:

Urine testing by collecting 24-hour urine to quantify deposited substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acidBlood testing: To investigate for hormones such as parathyroid hormone, and to reveal how much calcium and uric acid exist in the bloodImaging such as X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan can help identify the location and sometimes the type of stoneStone analysis is done if you pass a stone and you catch it, it can be sent to the laboratory for analysis of its composition which helps guide the treatment


Treatment of a kidney stone depends on the size of the stone. 

Small stones usually can pass by drinking enough fluids to dilute the stone. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to relieve the pain and medications to help the stone pass.

Large stones usually cause more severe symptoms, and they are too big to pass on their own. Sometimes your doctor may recommend breaking the stone into smaller pieces from the outside using “Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy” using sound waves. Sometimes the stone can be removed using a scope that goes into the ureter to extract the stone, when the stone is too big, then it requires  surgery for removal. 

For calcium-phosphate stones that are caused by enlarged parathyroid gland, a surgery is done to remove the gland which is called parathyroidectomy.


You may help prevent stones by doing the following:

Drink enough water daily, especially if you have history of kidney stones or live in hot dry weather, drink at least 60-90 oz of water dailyEat less food with oxalate: such as beets, spinach, okra, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate, and black pepperEat a diet with less protein and saltDo not restrict calcium in your food, continue to eat calcium-rich foodAlways ask your doctor before taking any medications or supplements that may worsen stones