Urolithiasis: Facts & Causes

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What is Urolithiasis?

Urolithiasis is an abnormal condition in which urinary calculi (urinary stones) forms anywhere in the urinary system. The calculi so formed consist of formation of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), formation of stones within uterus (ureterolithiasis) and formation of bladder stones (cystolithiasis). These stones develop because of decreased volume of urine or increased excretion of stone-forming components like oxalate, urate, phosphate, calcium, xanthine and cystine. The size of stones vary from patients to patients, it can range from tiny staghorn stones to the size of renal pelvis.

Facts about Urolithiasis

  • In Urolithiasis, urinary stones are primarily classified either by location or chemical composition like uric acid, struvite, calcium-containing and other similar compounds.
  • Patients suffering from this disorder experience severe pain which happens suddenly. Pain is intermittent and does not improve, even after changes in position. The pain exudes from the back, goes down the flank into the groin.
  • Men excrete more calcium and less citrate, which increases their risk to this disease.
  • The most common symptoms are vomiting and nausea. Ureteral or renal colic, blood in urine, infection in urinary tract and abdominal pain are some other symptoms.
  • After treatment, most of the urinary stones pass within 48 hours while some might not. There are various factors that affect the ability to pass out stones from the urinary system like size of the patient, prior stone passage, pregnancy, prostate enlargement and the size of the stone.
  • In case urinary stones don’t pass, a urology specialist is required for implementing certain procedures.
  • Individuals from African, Israeli and North American background are more likely to get affected by Urolithiasis.
  • Certain regions like mountains, dessert terrains and mountains are more associated with this disease.

How many people suffer from Urolithiasis?

According to research data, 65% of men around the world suffer from this disease whereas more than 60% of women suffer from Urolithiasis, once a lifetime. In men, 22 to 65 is the most common phase for having this problem whereas in women it happens after 30. Almost 80% of those suffering from urinary stone are men. Statistics suggest that this rate is increasing by 3%, every year, around the world.

Causes of Urolithiasis:

The primary causes of Urolithiasis are as follows:

  • Decrease in urine volume: Lower intakes of fluid cause dehydration, which develops stone in the urinary system.
  • Increased excretion of stone-forming components: Stone-forming components like calcium and xanthine influences stone formation in the urinary bladder and kidney.
  • Insufficient urine drainage, which leads to stasis: When there is inadequate urine drainage, it automatically solidifies into stones.
  • Lower urinary citrate levels: Decreasing citrate levels lead to deposition of more calcium, which in turn forms stone.
  • Deficiency of Vitamin A and-or C: Consuming diet which lacks Vitamin A and C affects kidney and urinary bladder, thereby forming hard stones.
  • Prolonged intake of medicines: Continuous intake of medicines like thiazide, indinavir, ephedrine, guaifenesin leads to development of such stones.

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