These factors may increase your risk of developing kidney stones:
» Lack of fluids produces a higher concentration of substances that form stones.
» Family or personal history.
» Age - Most people who develop kidney stones are between 20 and 70 years old.
» Sex - Men are affected more than women
» Race- White Americans more than black Americans.
» Certain diseases- Rare, inherited diseases such as renal tubular acidosis and cystinuria can increase the risk of kidney stones. Also, more common disorders like gout, chronic UTIs and hyperparathyroidism can add to risk.
» Certain medications- Diuretics may increase your risk of developing kidney stones in some situations and decrease it in others.
» Diet- A diet that's high in protein and low in fiber can increase risk of some types of kidney stones.
» Limited activity- People who are bedridden or very sedentary for a long period of time may release more calcium from their bones, increasing the risk for stones.
Although occasionally found during a routine medical exam, most kidney stones are diagnosed when person complains of severe kidney pain, chronic urinary tract infections or blood in the urine. If the doctor thinks you have kidney stones, he'll likely order a blood test to look for excess calcium or uric acid in the blood. He will also likely order a 24-hour collection of urine to check to see if you're excreting too many stone-forming minerals or too few inhibiting substances.
You may also have one or more of the following imaging tests:
» Abdominal X-ray- this will visualize most kidney stones and can help to judge changes in the size of a stone over time.
» Ultrasound- this technique combines high-frequency radio waves and computer processing to view your internal organs. It's safe and noninvasive, but may miss small stones.
» Intravenous pyelography (IVP)- this study can be useful in determining the location of stones and can define the degree of blockage a stone causes. A contrast dye is injected into a vein and a series of X-rays are taken as the dye moves through the kidneys, ureters and bladder.
» IVP has largely been replaced by the computerized tomography (CT) scan.
» Spiral CT scan- this imaging test has become the standard of care for evaluating kidney stones. It can be performed rapidly and identify stones regardless of composition.
» The doctor may ask a patient to urinate through a strainer so that any stone can be recovered and analyzed. The appropriate treatment and preventive plan going forward will depend on knowing what type of kidney stone the patient has.