The Urinary Tract and Kidney Stones


The kidneys form part of the urinary tract, along with the ureters, bladder, and urethra. They are two bean-shaped organs that may be found below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Its function includes the removal of extra water and wastes from the blood such as urea, uric acid, excess sodium ions, potassium, chloride and hydrogen. These extra water and wastes are then converted into urine and dispelled from the body. In addition to this, the kidneys are also tasked with keeping a stable balance of salts and other substances that may be found in the blood, including chemical constituents such as electrolytes, hormones and blood sugar. Third, it helps the production hormones to build stronger bones and to help the formation of red blood cells such as renin, vitamin D and erythropoietin. Lastly, it helps regulate blood pressure to maintain the proper rate of fluids filtered in the kidneys.

Kidney stones are solid or semi-solid mineral-like substances that developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney when chemical inhibitors contained in the urine are insufficient to prevent the crystals from forming.

There are four major types of kidney stones. Calcium stones, the most common of all stones, are caused by excess calcium in the blood. The second type of stones produced by high uric acid level in blood is the uric stones. Third is the cystine stones caused by a congenital effect called cystinuria that involves crystallization of excessive amounts amino acids. The last type is struvite stones that are caused by infection and which tend to develop when the urine is alkaline.

Kidney stones usually do not have any symptoms, especially if they are small enough to pass through the urinary tract unnoticed. The problem begins when the stone grows larger and starts to block the flow of the urine. The first symptom you will notice is extreme pain, depending upon the gravity of your condition. The pain may be felt more commonly in the back and side area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen and may later spread to the groin. Blood may also appear in the urine due to the movement of the stones. Sometimes, the blood may be the first symptom you will see if the kidney stone is not painful. You may also feel a burning sensation during urination. You may also notice that you urinate more often than you normally do. In addition to this, you may also experience nausea, vomiting and restlessness. Lastly, if there is an infection present, fevers and chills may also be present along with these other symptoms.