Urine naturally contains minerals and salts that are typically dissolved before being expelled from the body. When the urine doesn’t contain enough liquid, these minerals and salts can crystalize and form irregularly shaped masses called kidney stones.
Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or grow as large as a golf ball. Although formed in the kidney, kidney stones can affect many parts of the urinary tract, including the bladder and ureter.
There are four different types of kidney stones:
- Calcium stones. The most common type of kidney stones, calcium stones contain oxalate – a substance made by the liver and absorbed by a balanced diet.
- Uric acid stones. Uric acid stones are most common in patients who are dehydrated, whether from an illness or lack of water consumption on a regular basis.
- Struvite stones. Not very common, struvite stones are typically a response to a urinary tract infection.
- Cystine stones. Cystine stones are the least common type of kidney stone, as they are only associated with a hereditary metabolic disorder called cystinuria.