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What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are hard solid masses that form in the kidneys. These masses are also called calculi and result from the conglomeration of mineral deposits. Another term for kidney stones is ureterolithiasis.

There are various kinds of kidney stones, depending on the cause of their formation. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common kind of kidney stones, which count for as high as 80 per cent of known cases. The second kind accounts for about 5 to 10 per cent: uric acid. Kidney stones that are caused by the deposits of uric acid are usually accompanied by other risk factors such as obesity. Other kinds of kidney stones, which are less common, include magnesium, ammonium, phosphate, calcium phosphate, and cystine.

If kidney stones are small enough, they usually pass through the body via the urine stream. In fact, this is what happens in many cases. However, when kidney stones reach the size of 2 to 3 millimeters in diameter, they can obstruct the urinary tract and cause serious problems.

People with kidney stones experience different kinds of symptoms, but the most common - and dreaded - one is a pain felt in the loin/groin area. This pain can also spread to the lower back and is often described to be one of the most painful one can experience. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, blood and pus in the urine, the reduction of urine flow (due to the obstruction of the bladder or urethra), and a burning sensation when urinating (rare symptom).

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