Whether you’re in the middle of a kidney stone event, you’ve already had one, or you simply want to avoid them down the road, understanding the different types of kidney stones may help you better manage the problem.
In general, there are four types of kidney stones, and our team of highly experienced urology experts here at Arizona Urology have gathered together some information regarding each type.
Why kidney stones are problematic
Before we get into the different types of stones, let’s briefly discuss why kidney stones can be so problematic. A stone is a hard deposit that develops inside your kidneys, and when it moves around, attempts to exit into your ureter, or lodges in your ureter, it can cause mild-to-severe symptoms that include:
- Discolored urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- The urge to urinate frequently
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
On this list, pain is the primary complaint, and this pain can be a constant companion or come and go as the stone moves. You may experience pain in your back or side or the pain may only crop up when you urinate. No matter the level or frequency of pain, this is one symptom that makes kidney stones problematic and hard to ignore.
The different types of kidney stones
Now, let’s explore what creates these troublesome hardened deposits.
The most common type of kidney stone is made up of calcium, which accounts for 80% of kidney stones. Making matters slightly more complicated is the fact that there are two types of calcium stones: calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate.
Calcium oxalate is the more prevalent of the two, as oxalate is produced by your kidneys, and the substance can also be absorbed from the foods you eat. Examples of foods that are high in oxalates are nuts, beans, coffee, beets, berries, and chocolate.
2. Uric acid
Between 5% and 10% of kidney stones are created by uric acid that your body doesn’t process properly. Uric acid is a waste product that your body produces naturally, and it’s usually broken down in your urine. If you have high levels of uric acid, however, your body can’t keep up, allowing uric acid stones to form.
Diet can play a role in the levels of uric acid produced by your body, so we suggest you steer clear of those that lead to an increase in this waste product, including organ meats, red meat, seafood, and alcohol.
3. Struvite stones
Accounting for another 10% of kidney stones are struvite stones, which are associated with frequent urinary tract infections. Here, the key to preventing struvite stones is to better manage chronic urinary tract infections.
4. Cystine stones
Rounding out our list of kidney stones are cystine stones, which only account for 1% of stones. The reason for this low number is that cystine stones are usually the result of an inherited metabolic disorder that leads to too much cystine in your urine (cystine is an amino acid).
Treating kidney stones
No matter which type of stone you’ve developed in your kidney, the good news is that we can help. We offer several different approaches to kidney stones, depending upon their severity; they include:
- Watchful waiting
- Medications to encourage the passage of the stone
- A ureteroscopy, a procedure in which we remove a stone from your ureter
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy to break apart the stone
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy to remove the stone from your kidney
Once we resolve your kidney stone, we can put a plan in place to avoid future stones, depending upon the type of stone you had.
If you’d like to learn more about the different types of kidney stones, please contact one of our four locations in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, or Phoenix, Arizona.