Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that form in the kidney and cause pain when they move or pass through the body. One in 10 people will experience kidney stones, most often after the age of 30. Jonathan Rhee, MD, a urologist with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group, answers questions about this common condition.

What causes kidney stones?

The most common reason a person develops a kidney stone is not drinking enough water. The kidneys filter out toxins from the body. When there is not enough fluid moving through the kidneys, a stone can form. Other factors that can contribute to the formation of a stone are family history as well as too much salt and red meat. The chance of developing a kidney stone doubles if you’ve had a prior stone.

 What are the symptoms?

The hallmark symptom of a kidney stone is severe pain. The pain can sometimes feel like a muscle strain in your lower back that is not relieved by changing positions. Other symptoms include blood in your urine, nausea or vomiting and difficulty passing urine.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment for a kidney stone depends on the size and type of stone. Stones that are less than 5 millimeters in size, about the size of a pencil eraser, can be passed on their own through drinking lots of water. Certain medications may also help pass the stone. For larger stones, laser or shockwave treatments can help break up the stone, limiting kidney damage that may occur if the stone moves.

How can I prevent kidney stones?

The best way to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of water, limit the amount of salt and red meat in your diet and avoid fatty foods. This is good advice for any healthy lifestyle but will also lessen your chances of developing a stone and prevent damage to your kidneys.

If you suffer from or are at risk for kidney stones, Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group can help.