Kidney stones are mineral deposits formed in the kidney. They can cause discomfort as they pass through the urinary tract. If they are large enough, they can cause blockages.

Why Stones Occur
Kidney stones occur as microscopic particles gradually grow into stones. These deposits are present in the kidneys as part of the natural process of filtering the blood. However, when the waste materials in the blood do not dissolve completely, they can become kidney stones.

One out of every ten people in the United States will at some time suffer from kidney stones. Those who live near bodies of water, drink soft water on a regular basis, or have a family history of kidney stones are more likely to have the condition at some point than others. It is most common among patients who are between 30 and 45 years of age.

Kidney stones sometimes cause no symptoms and pass out of the body unnoticed. Large stones can cause pain in the urinary tract. Blood in the urine is another symptom of stones. Pain in the abdomen or lower back can indicate stones are present. Stones can sometimes cause increased urination, nausea and vomiting, and pain or burning during urination.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Kidney stones are usually discovered through imaging tests. Many stones are allowed to pass on their own. Large stones sometimes need medical intervention such as lithotripsy (ESL), laser treatment, and rarely, surgery to remove them. Increasing fluid intake can help prevent more stones from occurring.