Two organs shaped like giant chili beans lying within your lower back. They remove excess water, salts, and other substances from the blood and send it out as urine. This keeps the blood's pH, water and chemical composition in balance. This removed waste travels through the ureters and empties into the bladder, where it is stored until urination occurs.
If you've gotta go... Go! Do not make a habit of holding your urine for long periods of time. Your body is telling you that pressure is building up inside your bladder and it needs a release.
Kidney stones are formed when tiny crystals separate from the urine and collect inside the kidney forming a small stone. Stones can develop over a period of months or even years. The size of a kidney stone can range from a small speck to the size of a golf ball! luckily most people's urine contains chemicals that prevent the formation of these crystals. However, every year up to a million people are diagnosed with kidney stones. An estimated 10% of the people living in the U.S. will develop kidney stones at some point in their lives. If you're prone to kidney stones you could have them as early as your twenties. Although they usually don't occur until after you turn 30, it might help to develop habits that will avoid these painful little guys in the future.
Anyone can get a kidney stone. However some are at more risk than others.
White Americans are more likely to develop a stone than Black Americans.
Men are 4 times as likely to develop kidney stones than are women. Stones occur most typically in men ages 20 to 40.
If you live in the southeastern U.S. you're more likely to get kidney stoned.
If you commonly have urinary tract infections you are at a higher risk for "struvite kidney stones."
You are at an exceptionally high risk for oxalate kidney stones if...
Oxalate Kidney Stones
The most common kidney stone is composed of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. These make up 70% to 80% of all kidney stones reported in the US. Because of this, people used to avoid dairy products high in calcium to prevent kidney stones. This is wrong! Today, we know that foods high in calcium, including milk and most other dairy products, actually help prevent oxalate kidney stones from forming. This is because the calcium in the food absorbs the oxalate and phosphate in the digestive tract before it enters the blood so these crystals never make it to the kidneys. Instead the oxalate and phosphate is flushed out of the body through the digestive tract. A diet high in calcium is good for you. It's good for your muscles, your bones and your kidneys. Calcium only becomes a problem when it is abnormally excreted into the kidneys. This can be caused by a disorder or by eating too much sugar. Too much sugar causes your pancreas to release insulin, which causes extra calcium excretion in your urine. So keep your sweets in moderation. Dehydration can also lead to a high concentration of calcium oxalate in the urine. When you exercise especially in a hot climate make sure you are guzzling water. The rest of the time, you should still make sure to drink lots of water. Water is the number one most important nutrient in your diet. Large doses of vitamin C and a lack of vitamin B can cause excess oxalate in the urine, leading to this type of kidney stone. Although vitamin C is good for you in many ways, those of you who are at an exceptionally high risk for oxalate kidney stones due to your family history, having suffered from one already, or having a disorder, should limit your daily vitamin C intake to 100 to 200 mg per day.
The second most common kidney stones are Struvite stones. This type of kidney stone is caused by recurrent urinary tract infections in women. So try to keep the opening to your urinary tract (near the vagina) clean, as well as anything that might come into contact with it clean. If you find you are having many urinary tract infections, ask your doctor for advice. Vitamin C and cranberry juice can work wonders. For this particular type of stone, Vitamin C is a good thing. So as you can see, different kidney stones require different ways of prevention. The trick is to find out whether you are at risk for one or the other and then plan your diet, including your vitamin C intake, accordingly.
Those of you who are at an exceptionally high risk for oxalate kidney stones: meaning you have a family history of oxalate stones, you've had one already, or you have a disorder that makes you prone to oxalate stones...
Women, to prevent Struvite Stones...
If you are not at high risk for oxalate stones...
What if you get a kidney stone?
Most kidney stones pass out of the body through the urine without help from a doctor. Stones that remain in the kidney causing lasting symptoms or complications can be treated using various non-surgical techniques. Most often surgery is unnecessary. If you notice blood in your urine or feel a sharp pain in your back or side, see your physician.
Your kidneys work their cortexes off!
Evidence of kidney stones have been found in a 7000 year old Egyptian mummy.