What even is a kidney stone?


My mom and I were in the middle of an unimportant texting conversation and when I suggest calling her she says, "I will call after we leave the ER with your little sister."  I immediately freaked out.  My baby (who really is not a baby, she is a sophomore in high school) is in the hospital.  My mom tells me it is just a kidney stone, she is in a lot of pain but that was it.  But what is a kidney stone? I had no clue, and since I can't be there for my little sister I feel like the least I can do is understand what happened to her.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney from substances in the urine.  A kidney stone can stay where it was formed

kidney stone.jpg

 or travel down the urinary tract.  Also a more painful result may be a larger stone getting stuck in the ureter, bladder, or the urethra, and this may block the flow of urine.

The symptoms vary, sometimes kidney stones can be passed without any doctor's help but often the pain is too much that the doctor needs to get involved.  My mom was originally unsure what was wrong with my sister.  She started out with severe back pain and later her stomach started to hurt.  She had just played field hockey on varsity for the first time and my mom originally thought it was just soreness from intense play.  But as the symptoms became more severe she started to believe it was something more.  The pain continued to increase, and half way through the night she started vomiting continuously.  My mom decided at this point that more help was needed.  These are all common symptoms of a kidney stone, and seeing these indicate that a doctor should get involved.  There are also other signs that you should see a doctor.  Some include, blood in your urine, a burning feeling when you urinate, fever and chills, and urine that smells bad or is cloudy.

I learned that there are different types of kidney stones.  The most common is a stone containing calcium.  Calcium not used up by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys, and the kidney normally flushes out the extra calcium in the urine.  But people with kidney stones collect this calcium in their kidney.  This left other calcium connects with the other waste in the kidney and creates a stone, called calcium oxalate.  Another type of kidney stone is a struvite stone.  This is formed after a urinary system infection.  They are created from mineral magnesium and ammonia waste.  Then there is a uric acid stone.  Uric acid stones form when urine has too much acid, and if you get these you should cut back on how much meat you eat.  The fourth kind of kidney stone is the most rare kind, cystine stone.  The disease that forms these runs in families.  Cystine is present in the make up of muscles, nerves and other parts of the body, and if it builds up in the urine it forms a stone.

Next, I looked at what kind of advice I could give to my sister so this didn't have to happen again.  According to this article, the main thing you have to do to avoid kidney stones is to stay hydrated.  Drinking lots 


of water is very important in most aspects of health.  Also, you can drink cranberry juice because it reduces the calcium in the kidney which stops kidney stone growth.  Also you must watch your diet.  Eating less calcium such as milk and cheese products may reduce the risk of forming a kidney stone.  Also you should avoid eating foods high in oxalate.  Examples of these foods would be bran flakes, nuts, tea, and much more.  So even though I can't be there for my sister, I will help her avoid ever having one again.

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