Did you know that if you’ve had kidney stones before, your risk of getting another stone increases significantly? It’s true. People who’ve had a kidney stone experience a 50% greater chance of a recurrence.
Kidney stones are incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful enough to send over 500,000 Americans to the emergency room each year. The only thing worse than a kidney stone is realizing you have another kidney stone and have to go through the pain again.
Urologist Philip Weintraub, MD, and our compassionate care team at Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, want to help you prevent recurrent kidney stones. We’ve put together this guide with information on the causes of recurring stones and what you can do to prevent them.
What causes kidney stones?
Kidney stones are deposits of crystal-forming minerals such as calcium, salt, uric acid, and oxalate. If you don’t have enough water in your urinary system to flush out these minerals, they can become concentrated in your urine.
When these minerals are highly concentrated in your system, they crystalize and come together in your kidney to form kidney stones. Rather than being uniform, kidney stones come in different sizes, from as small as a tiny seed to the size of a golf ball.
Symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Back and side pain below your ribs
- Pain that goes to your lower abdomen or groin
- Pain that comes in waves
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in your urine
- Urinary frequency
- Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
- Burning or pain when urinating
Kidney stones can also cause you to only urinate in small amounts.
What causes recurrent kidney stones?
If you’re suffering from recurrent kidney stones, talk to a specialist like Dr. Weintraub at Urological Associates Medical Group. Different factors can trigger a recurrence, and it’s important to rule out certain conditions to better understand what’s causing your stones.
For most people, lifestyle factors are the reasons kidney stones keep developing. For example, eating too much animal protein, especially from red and organ meat, increases uric acid levels while decreasing the chemical needed to stop minerals from crystallizing.
Being overweight or obese has also been linked to high levels of uric acid and an increased risk of recurrent kidney stones, as has consumption of high levels of sodium and not drinking adequate amounts of water.
If you’ve had recurrent kidney stones or are worried about more stones developing, lower your risk by making simple lifestyle changes like losing weight, drinking plenty of water, avoiding sodium, and eating more fruits and veggies and less animal protein.
But for some people, certain hereditary or genetic conditions may cause recurrent stones. These include:
- Cystinuria, a condition that elevates the levels of cystine in your urine, an amino acid that can crystalize and form stones
- Primary hyperoxaluria, a group of genetic disorders that cause your liver to produce too much oxalate, which can crystalize and form stones
- Cystic fibrosis, a condition linked to an increase in oxalate and a decrease in the chemical needed to break down oxalate
- GI conditions that trigger chronic diarrhea, such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disorder, hyperparathyroidism, gout, diabetes, gastric bypass, and obesity
At Urology Associates Medical Group, we’re experienced at identifying causes of recurrent kidney stones so you can get the help you need and keep the pain away.
For patients with kidney stones, we offer different kidney stone treatments, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) to break up stones with noninvasive shock waves and ureteroscopy to remove the stone through the urethra.
If you’ve had recurrent kidney stones or want to learn about preventing a recurrence, call our office or request an appointment online. We’re also pleased to offer telemedicine appointments for your convenience.