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What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones usually begin as a speck in the renal pelvis, the area in the kidney where urine collects before flowing into the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder). Over time, materials adhere to this speck, gradually increasing its size. Furthermore, kidney stones have the potential to occur in one or both kidneys and can grow over an inch in diameter.

Most kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate, uric acid, or cystine, which crystalize in the urine and form a stone. Tiny stones seldom cause problems because they are easily carried in the ureters and urethra and excreted through urination. However, stones that are about 1/5 inch or more can cause severe pain upon entering the ureter. In addition, men are more susceptible to the disease formation than women, and the risk increases after the age of 30.

The pain from a kidney stone often starts in the back and after traveling through the ureter may radiate to the testicles in men and the labia in women in the next few hours. Nausea and traces of blood in the urine are common symptoms.   


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