What are the Reasons I Got Kidney Stones: FAQ – What You Need to Know

by Alex Shteynshlyuger MD

If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4421

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger  is a board certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with kidney stones and ureteral stones.

Why Did I Get Kidney Stones? What Increases My Risk Of Getting Kidney Stones?

Kidney StonesKidney stones form when salts and minerals in urine crystallize and bind together to form stones within the urinary system (kidneys, ureters, and bladder). Symptoms of kidney stones usually occur when a stone gets stuck somewhere in the urinary tract.

Anybody can get kidney stones, but there are certain risk factors that make it more likely for a person to get them. Some of these risk factors can be controlled, while others cannot.  Addressing your major risk factors for kidney stones can help you avoid getting kidney stones in the future. Once you have a stone, you have about 50% chance of having another one in the future.

Some risk factors are obvious and easy to figure out: if you have 2 siblings with kidney stones, you have  an inherited risk.  If you’re overweight, you’re at risk.  However, the big question is what is your MAJOR RISK factor?  Typically blood work and 24 hour urine collection is necessary to answer that question.  While all risk factors are important addressing the MAJOR risk factor for you is the most important step that needs to be done.  If you address 5 other risk factors but not your major risk factor it may not do the trick.

At New York Urology Specialists, we aim to identify and address the major risk factors first.

Modifiable Risk Factors:

  • Fluid Intake and Dehydration: Not drinking enough fluids makes the urine more concentrated and increases the likelihood of stones developing.  Drinking more than 10 glasses (about 2 liters or ½ gallon) of water or other fluids every day can lower the risk of stone disease.  In general one needs to make at least 2 liters of urine a day to decrease risk of recurrent kidney stones. If you work outside in the summer, in a hot factory or work out in the gym intensively, you need to increase your fluid intake proportionately to produce at least 2 liters of urine a day.
  • Diet: Certain substances found naturally in foods increase the risk of kidney stone disease. These include foods rich in animal protein, sodium, and oxalate. If you suffer from kidney stones, a urologist or dietician can guide you on the foods you should avoid eating.  It is important to remember that not everyone who gets stones gets them as a result of their diet choices. Some people have diet as their major risk factors; for other people, other risk factors are more important.  While healthy diet is important, changing diet will not help everyone to avoid kidney stones if their major risk lies elsewhere.  
  • Weight: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of kidney stones because overweight people have an increased amount of calcium in their urine. They may also have insulin resistance, a condition which has been linked to uric acid stone formation. Weight loss is in general good for health as well as for decreasing the risk of kidney stone formation.
  • Drugs: Certain medications lead to stone formation in the kidneys. These medications are not very common.  It is one of the least common causes of kidney stones.  Examples include calcium-based antacids, Crixivan (indinavir) used for treatment of HIV infection, Diamox (acetazolamide) for altitude sickness and glaucoma, and Topamax (topiramate) which is an anti-seizure medication.

Risk Factors That Cannot Be Modified:

  • Gender and Age: Men between the ages of 30-50 years are at highest risk of developing kidney stones. Postmenopausal women are also at higher risk likely due to low levels of estrogen hormone. Women who have undergone surgical removal of their ovaries are at higher risk for the same reason.
  • Family History: Stone disease runs in some families and having a family member with kidney stones increases the likelihood of a person developing them.
  • UTIs: A history of frequent urinary tract infections is associated with an increased risk of kidney stones. It is important to know that sometimes UTI are caused by stones and treatment of stones can decrease your chances of getting UTI by 50%.
  • Other Diseases: Certain diseases such as gout, hyperparathyroidism, and Crohn’s disease have been linked to kidney stone disease.
  • Surgery: Certain procedures such as intestinal surgery or weight loss (bariatric) surgery with gastric bypass are risk factors for kidney stones. It has been noted that people who have undergone these procedures have low amounts of citrate in their urine. Citrate is a substance that helps to prevent formation of stones.
  • Insulin Resistance: Obese people and diabetics have resistance to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Insulin resistance is associated with increased risk of uric acid stones.

If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4421

We offer affordable, highest-quality urology care.  We offer weekday, weekend, and evening office hours in our New York City offices. 

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger has helped hundreds of men and women with kidney stones suffering from pain to become stone-free.  He uses minimally invasive technology to improve patient care. Most patients are able to return to their activities the next day.