Kidney stones happen when your pee has a high concentration of minerals and other substances — like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid — that come together to make crystals. Crystals stick together to make one or more stones.
The different types of stones are made of different types of substances. It’s important to know the type of stone you have, so you can know what may have caused it and how to prevent it.
If you pass a kidney stone, you should take it to your doctor so they can send it to the lab and find out what kind it is:
- Calcium stones. Most kidney stones are made from calcium, in the form of calcium oxalate. There are two kinds of calcium stones:
- Calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a substance made daily by your liver. Some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, are high in it. Your body absorbs the substance when you eat these foods. Other things that can make the concentration of calcium or oxalate in your urine to rise are taking high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery and certain metabolic disorders.
- Calcium phosphate. This type of stone happens more often in people with metabolic conditions, like renal tubular acidosis (where your kidneys aren’t able to help maintain proper acid balance in your blood) or with people who take medications to treat migraines or seizures.
- Kidney stones often have no single cause, and several factors may increase your risk for getting them. Some of these factors are listed below. They include:
- Lack of water
- You need to make enough pee to dilute the things that can turn into stones. If you don’t drink enough or sweat too much, your pee may look dark. It should be pale yellow or clear.
- If you’ve had a stone before, you should make about 8 cups of urine a day. So aim to down about 10 cups of water daily, since you lose some fluids through sweat and breathing. Swap a glass of water for a citrus drink. The citrate in lemonade or orange juice can block stones from forming.
- What you eat can play a big role in whether you get one of these stones.