Kidney stones are solid masses that develop due to the increased presence of calcium, oxalate and uric acid in the urine, and at the same time, due to reduced amounts of or lack of water, which is needed to dilute these stone forming substances.
The University of Michigan notes that some kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a pearl. Aside from being painful, they can be trapped in your urinary tract, disrupting the proper flow of urine. If you have experienced unbearable pain in your side and back, this may be a sign that you have kidney stones.
Kidney stone statistics
According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), kidney stones result in emergency room trips for half a million people in the U.S. annually. The organization also estimates that at least 1 in 10 people will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime.
In the U.S., men are twice as likely to have kidney stones as women, with a 12% lifetime risk for this problem. Women can also develop kidney stones, although their lifetime risk is only 6%. In terms of ethnicity, a 2010 Opinion in the Urology article found that white men are more likely to develop kidney stones, while Asian women had the lowest risk for this health problem.
While men and women between the ages of 30 and 50 are often affected with kidney stones, people as young as 20 also experience this condition. Occasionally, kidney stones can even develop among infants, children, and adolescents.
Aside from unbearable pain, kidney stones are a significant financial burden. A study published in the translational journal Andrology and Urology in 2014 noted that annual estimates for kidney stones exceed $5 billion, with this amount covering “direct costs of treatment for stones and indirect costs associated with lost labor productivity.
How to combat kidney stones
Although kidney stones can be difficult to treat, there are methods that can dissolve in your body so that they can be released later through urine. However, it’s still worth keeping an eye on when it comes to conventional remedies, as some can trigger complications.
These pages will help you learn more about what kidney stones are, which are usually facts and signs to look out for. Find out how you can provide your body with ample defenses to stop kidney stone formation in the first place.