Kidney stones need no introduction. It is one of the most common diseases to affect the urinary tract. It is so universal in fact that one in ten people is affected by it. Kidney stones are not life-threatening if treated properly, yet they can be excruciatingly painful. In fact, many say passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful human experiences of all time. As a result of this, a number of researchers have dedicated countless hours of time, money, and manpower to studying this disease.
Despite being relatively ordinary, research shows that men are more at risk for kidney stones than women. Recent data shows that 11% of men will experience kidney stones in their lifetime compared to 6% of women. But what causes kidney stones in men? Why are they more at risk? These are questions upon which much research has been done.
Furthermore, research also shows that people who are affected by kidney stones have a 50% more chance of recurrence than others. Continue reading this blog to find out the reasons for this and what you can do to minimise your chances of kidney stone.
What is a Kidney Stone?
Renal calculus or nephrolith more commonly called kidney stones is a condition that affects the urinary system of the body. But have you ever wondered what kidney stones are and what causes kidney stones in men? If these are the questions you want to be answered then read on.
Kidney stones are deposits of tiny crystals made of minerals and salts inside the kidney. These crystals form when waste is not excreted out of the body because of low urine production.
When many such crystals combine together they form a solid mass which then becomes kidney stones. Kidney stones can vary in size according to person to person. The smallest can be anywhere below 5 mm and can grow up to the size of a golf ball if left untreated. Kidney stones also come in different types depending on their composition. The four types of kidney stones include:-
- Calcium Stones: Calcium stones are the most common variety of kidney stones. They are composed of calcium and oxalate. Calcium stones are the result of the consumption of food with high oxalate content, high levels of vitamin D, and other metabolic disorders.
- Struvite Stones: Struvite stones are formed as a result of an infection in the upper urinary tract. They are found more frequently in women than in men and can become quite large in a short period of time.
- Uric Acid Stones: Uric acid stones are a type of kidney stone formed due to high purine intake. Purine is a compound found in certain types of foods like fish, pork, bacon, and turkey. Uric acid is formed as a by-product of your body breaking down these purines.
- Cystine Stones: Cystine stones are formed as a result of a hereditary disorder called cystinuria. People with this condition form kidney stones because of the presence of a substance called cystine in the urine. Since there is no cure for it, people with cystinuria can have multiple kidney stones occur in their lifetime.
What Causes Kidney Stones in Men?
In recent years research has shown that men are more at risk of developing kidney stones than women. While new data does show that this gap is closing, men however are still at high risk for this renal disease. Of the various studies, many note a few key points as to why men have an increased tendency to experience kidney stones. These include:-
- Sex Hormones: Studies suggest that sex hormones present in men could be one of the reasons for men having a higher risk of kidney stones. Testosterone can increase the production of oxalate and calcium which is one of the many components present in kidney stones.
- Diet: Much research shows that men who have a larger waist circumference due to their diet are also prone to this disease. Animal protein, potassium, and sodium which are all triggers for kidney stones are shown to be consumed by men in large amounts. It was also noted that men have a high intake of vitamins C and D all of which contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
- Genetics: Genetics also play a significant role in whether a person is more likely to get kidney stones or not. In a study conducted with male and female twins, it was found that kidney stones were inherited among men more than women.
- Blood Pressure: Blood pressure was shown to have a significant impact on men when it comes to developing kidney stones. A cross-sectional study found that men who were in the hypotensive group had a history of kidney stones twice that of the normotensive group.
Kidney Stone Symptoms in Men: Get Yourself Checked-Up
Kidney stones tend to cause extreme pain. It's better to catch symptoms early and get proper treatment right away. Some kidney stone symptoms in men include:
- Pain in the stomach or lower back
- Burning sensation when passing urine
- Chills or nausea
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy urine or foul-smelling urine
How to Prevent Kidney Stones?
While kidney stones are extremely common among the population some lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing the painful condition. Here are a few changes you can implement in your way of life to ensure that your kidneys are free of renal stones.
Kidney Stones are a common enough condition that affects a vast majority of the population. Now that you know what causes kidney stones in men you can also prevent them. Catching them early and getting proper treatment can minimise the damage to your kidney. There are also plenty of options you can consider if you are at risk for kidney stones. So be sure to utilise these options to minimise the risk and pain of kidney stones.