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Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones?

Updated: May 22


Can Stress Cause Kidney Pain? - A Stressed Woman With Kidney Stones.

We all feel stressed sometimes, and it can make our bodies and minds feel bad. Most people know stress can give us headaches or make it hard to sleep, but did you know stress can also hurt other parts of our body, like our kidneys? Let's look closer at this question: can stress cause kidney stones?


What is Stress?

Stress is how our body and mind react when we feel like something is hard to deal with or might be dangerous. It's a normal thing that happens to everyone when we face problems in life. The body reacts to stress by releasing stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension in preparation for a "fight or flight" response. A little bit of stress is okay, but if we feel stressed all the time, it can make our bodies and minds feel bad.


What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are little hard rocks that can form inside your kidneys. They're made when things like calcium and oxalate, which are normally in your body, stick together and get hard. Kidney stones can be very small, like a grain of sand, or bigger, like a pebble. When these stones move around in your body, they can hurt a lot, especially when they pass out of your body through the urinary tract.


Kidney Stone Symptoms


Intense Back or Side Pain

One of the main signs to tell if you have kidney stones is if you feel really bad pain in your back or side. The pain can be very strong and might make you want to see a doctor right away. Where you feel the pain and how bad it is can be different, depending on how big the stone is and where it's moving in your body.


Hematuria (Blood in the Urine)

Another sign of kidney stones is when you see blood in your urine, which is called hematuria. Your urine might look pink or red because of the blood. While there are many reasons for blood in urine, it's important to see a doctor to find out why.


Frequent Urination

Kidney stones can make you need to pee more often. This might make you feel like you need to go to the bathroom right away, even if your bladder isn't full.  Paying attention to these changes can help spot kidney stone problems.


Painful Urination

If you have kidney stones, it might hurt or burn when you pee. This pain happens because the stone irritates your urinary tract. It's important to remember that this pain is different from the pain you might feel if you have an infection in your urinary tract. If it hurts when you pee, it's best to talk to a doctor to find out what's causing the pain.


Cloudy or Foul-Smelling Urine

Kidney stones can sometimes change the way your urine looks or smells. Your urine might look cloudy or it might have a bad smell. This happens because the stone can mess with the normal balance of stuff in your urine.


Nausea and Vomiting

Sometimes, kidney stones can make you feel sick and throw up. This can happen because of the strong pain or the body's reaction to the blockage and swelling caused by the stones.


Fever and Chills

Although not common, having an infection with kidney stones can cause fever and chills. This is a sign that something more serious is going on and you need to see a doctor right away to get help.


Painful Groin Area

When a kidney stone moves down the urinary tract, it can cause pain in the groin area. This pain might spread from the lower back or side, adding to the discomfort felt by people with kidney stones.


Restlessness and Agitation

When you have kidney stones, the pain can make it hard to relax and might make you feel grouchy. It's hard to find a position that feels good because the pain won't go away. It's important to remember that these feelings are normal when you have kidney stones. You can tell people around you how you feel so they can help you feel better.


Causes of Kidney Stones


Dehydration

Not drinking enough water can make it more likely for kidney stones to form. Your body needs water to help get rid of extra stuff it doesn't need. If you don't drink enough water, the stuff that's left in your body can stick together and make kidney stones. So, drinking lots of water can help stop kidney stones from forming.


Dietary Choices

What you eat affects your chances of getting kidney stones. Eating lots of foods high in oxalate, like beets, nuts, and chocolate, can lead to stones. A diet high in salt and meat can also make it more likely to get kidney stones. So, eating a mix of different foods that don't have too much oxalate, salt, or meat can help you not get kidney stones.


Calcium Oxalate

Calcium is important to make your bones strong, but too much oxalate in your urine can mix with calcium and make little crystals. These crystals can grow into kidney stones. To help stop this, try to eat the right amount of calcium and choose foods that don't have too much oxalate.


Uric Acid

Something called uric acid can sometimes build up in your body. This can happen when you have a problem called gout. Having too much uric acid can make kidney stones more likely. Checking how much uric acid is in your body and getting help for gout can help lower the chances of getting kidney stones.


Family History

If other people in your family have had kidney stones, it might mean you have a higher chance of getting them too. Genetics can affect how your body works and make kidney stones more likely. Knowing if your family members have had kidney stones can help you be careful and do things to try not to get them.


Obesity

Being very overweight, which is also called obesity, can make it more likely for you to get kidney stones. This happens because how your body works and what you eat when you're very overweight can make it easier for kidney stones to form. Losing some weight, if you need to, can help make it less likely for you to get kidney stones.


Medical Conditions

Some health issues can make kidney stones more likely. Diseases like cystic kidney diseases and urinary tract infections can help stones form. Taking care of these health problems with the help of a doctor is very important to try not to get kidney stones.


Medications

Some medicines can cause kidney stones as a side effect. Examples are diuretics, antacids, and certain anti-seizure drugs. It's important to talk to your doctor about the medicine you take and ask if it can make kidney stones more likely. If it does, maybe they can find a different medicine for you.


Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Some people have problems with their stomach called Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. These problems can sometimes make it easier for kidney stones to form. This happens because these stomach problems can change how things work in your body and how you eat, which can help kidney stones form. If you have one of these stomach problems, your doctor can help you try not to get kidney stones.


Hyperparathyroidism

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition where the parathyroid glands make too much hormone, causing high calcium levels in the urine. This extra calcium can lead to kidney stones. If you have this problem, your doctor can help you find ways to try to stop kidney stones from forming.


Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones?

Stress by itself doesn't give you kidney stones, but it can make things happen in your body that might make kidney stones more likely. If you're very stressed for a long time, your body might change the way it works, and those changes can make kidney stones more likely to form.


How Does Stress Cause Kidney Stones?


1. Altered Hormonal Balance

Your body makes special things called hormones when you're stressed. Two of these are cortisol and adrenaline. They help you deal with problems or get away from danger. But, they can also change how your body works. One of them, cortisol, can change how your body uses calcium, which is important because too much of it can cause kidney stones.


2. Impact on Blood Pressure and Blood Flow

Long-term stress can raise blood pressure, messing up how your kidneys balance fluids. The kidneys, which clean your blood by removing waste, might not work as well when you're stressed. This can make minerals in your blood more concentrated, leading to kidney stones.


3. Changes in Urine Composition

What your urine is made of is a big part of whether kidney stones can form. The hormones your body makes when you're stressed can change what's in your urine, like how much calcium and oxalate are in it. If there's too much of these things in your urine, it makes it easier for minerals to form crystals, which can turn into kidney stones.


4. Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

When people are stressed, they might do things that aren't good for their bodies, like eating bad foods or not drinking enough water. People who are stressed might eat more salty foods, or foods with lots of oxalates, or meaty foods. All of these things can make kidney stones more likely. Also, not drinking enough water can make your urine more concentrated, which can also help kidney stones form.


5. Impact on Immune Function

Being very stressed for a long time can make your body's defenses, called your immune system, not work as well. When your immune system isn't working well, it's easier for you to get sick, like getting an infection in your urinary system. These infections can make kidney stones more likely, so being very stressed might make kidney stones more likely in this way too.


6. Influence on Lifestyle Habits

When you're stressed, it can mess up your healthy habits like sleep and exercise. Not getting enough sleep and not moving around enough can mess with how your body works, making it more likely you'll get kidney stones.


What are Kidney Stones Made of?


1. Calcium Oxalate Stones

Most kidney stones are made mostly of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is in lots of foods naturally. When it mixes with calcium in your urine, it can start to form little crystals. If you eat a lot of foods with oxalate in them, it can help these crystals grow into kidney stones.


2. Calcium Phosphate Stones

Another kind of kidney stone is made of calcium phosphate. These stones happen when there's too much calcium and phosphate in your urine, and they can stick together to make crystals that can grow into stones.


3. Uric Acid Stones

There are also kidney stones made from uric acid. Uric acid stones happen when there's too much uric acid in your urine. They're common in people with gout or those who eat a lot of foods with purines, like red meat, organ meats, and seafood.  When uric acid forms crystals, it can make these stones.


4. Struvite Stones

Another kind of kidney stone is called a struvite stone, or an infection stone. These stones happen when you have an infection in your urinary system. They're made of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate. These stones can grow really fast and might cause problems, so treating the infection is important to help stop these stones from forming.


5. Cystine Stones

There's a kind of kidney stone that doesn't happen very often, called a cystine stone. These stones happen when someone has a problem they were born with, called cystinuria. People with cystinuria have too much cystine in their urine, which can stick together and turn into stones. To help stop these stones from forming, people with cystinuria might need to change their lifestyle or take special medicine.


6. Other Less Common Components

There are also some other kinds of kidney stones that don't happen very often. These can be made of things like xanthine, indinavir (a drug for HIV), and rare minerals. To find out if someone has these kinds of kidney stones and to help them feel better, doctors might need to do special tests or give special medicines.


Treatment for Stress and Kidney Stones


Stress Management Techniques


1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

  • Mindful meditation: Doing things like quiet thinking time, called meditation, or breathing exercises can help you feel less stressed. These activities can help make your mind more relaxed and clear, so you can deal with the things that stress you out better.

  • Establish a routine: Having a daily mindfulness routine can make you feel more stable and help your mental health.


2. Physical Activity

  • Regular exercise: Doing activities that make your body move, like walking, running, or stretching in a special way called yoga, can help make your body and mind feel good. These activities can help you feel less stressed.

  • Outdoor activities: Being outside in places with lots of trees, plants, and fresh air can make you feel better both in your mind and your body.


3. Adequate Sleep

  • Establish a sleep routine: Make sure you get good sleep every night by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Also, make your bedroom a nice place to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and not too hot or cold.

  • Limit screen time: Spend less time on phones, computers, and televisions before you go to bed. This can help you sleep better.


4. Social Support

  • Connect with others: Spend time with people you love and care about, like your friends and family. Talking to them, doing things together, and helping each other can make you feel happier and less stressed.

  • Consider professional help: If you're feeling very stressed and it's hard to deal with, talk to a mental health expert for ways to deal with it. They can give you ideas for how to feel less stressed.


Kidney Stone Treatment Approaches


1. Pain Management

Treating the pain from kidney stones is a big part of getting better. Your doctor might give you special medicines to help with the pain.


2. Hydration

Drinking lots of water is very important to help stop kidney stones from forming. When you drink lots of water, it helps dilute minerals in your urine, so they're less likely to stick together and make a stone.


3. Medication to Alleviate Stone Formation

Depending on the type of kidney stone, your doctor might give you a special medicine to help stop kidney stones from forming. This medicine can change what's in your urine, so the things that can turn into kidney stones are less likely to stick together.


4. Medical Procedures

If the kidney stones are big or causing a lot of problems, doctors might need to do special things to get rid of them. They might do lithotripsy, which breaks the kidney stones into smaller pieces, or they might do surgery to take the kidney stones out.


How to Prevent Stress and Kidney Stones?


Stress Prevention Techniques


1. Mindfulness Practices

Make it a habit to practice quiet thinking, called meditation, and deep breathing every day. This can help you feel less stressed and make your mind feel clearer.


2. Regular Exercise

Do activities that make your body move often, like walking, running, or swimming. This helps your body release endorphins that make you feel good. Exercise can also help your whole body feel better and make your muscles feel less tight.


3. Adequate Sleep

Make sure you get enough good sleep every night. This helps your body and mind get the rest they need to work well and feel better. Getting good sleep can help you feel less stressed and happier.


4. Time Management

Try to use your time well by doing the most important things first and making plans that you can really do. This can help you feel less like you have too many things to do and don't know where to start.


5. Social Support

Spend time with people who care about you and make you feel good. Talk to them about your thoughts and feelings. This can help you feel happier and less stressed.


Kidney Stone Prevention Strategies


1. Hydration

Drink lots of water all through the day. This is very important to help stop kidney stones. When you drink lots of water, it helps prevent kidney stones by diluting minerals in your urine, so they're less likely to stick together and make a stone.


2. Balanced Diet

Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Don't eat too much salt, meat, and foods high in oxalates. This can help stop things from building up in your body that can turn into kidney stones.


3. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Don't drink too much stuff with caffeine, like coffee or soda, or too much alcohol. These things can make your body lose water, and not having enough water in your body can help kidney stones form.


4. Regular Check-ups

See your doctor for check-ups often to make sure your kidneys are healthy. This way, if there's a problem, your doctor can find it early and help you get better faster.


5. Consultation with a Nutritionist

Talk to someone who knows a lot about food, called a nutritionist. They can help you make a special eating plan just for you, so you eat things that help stop kidney stones from forming.


Risk Factors for Kidney Stones


1. Dehydration

Not drinking enough water is a big risk for kidney stones. When you don't drink enough, the minerals in your urine can get more concentrated, stick together, and start making a stone. Drinking lots of water is a basic way to lower this risk.


2. Dietary Habits

  • High Oxalate Foods: Eating too many foods with lots of oxalate, like beets, nuts, and chocolate, can make it more likely for you to get kidney stones. This is especially true if you are someone who gets kidney stones often.

  • Excessive Sodium Intake: Too much salt in your diet can make you get kidney stones more easily. This is because eating lots of salt makes your body get rid of more calcium in your urine, and that calcium can stick together to make a kidney stone.

  • Animal Proteins: Eating lots of meat from animals, like beef, can make you more likely to get kidney stones. This is because eating lots of animal meat can make your urine have more uric acid and calcium, and those things can stick together to make a kidney stone.


3. Genetic Predisposition

If other people in your family have had kidney stones, you might be more likely to get them too. Genes can affect how your body deals with stuff that makes stones. Knowing your family history helps you take steps to lower your risk.


4. Underlying Medical Conditions

  • Hypercalciuria: Some people have a problem where their body gets rid of too much calcium in their urine. This problem is called hypercalciuria. Having too much calcium in your urine can make it easier for you to get kidney stones.

  • Cystinuria: There's a problem some people are born with, called cystinuria. This rare gene problem makes cystine build up in their urine. When there's too much cystine, it can stick together and make a kind of kidney stone called a cystine stone.

  • Renal Tubular Acidosis (RTA): There's something in your body called acid-base balance. When your body's acid-base balance gets messed up, like in RTA, it can add to the risk of getting kidney stones.


5. Obesity and Weight Gain

People who are very overweight, or obese, might be more likely to get kidney stones. Having too much extra weight can change how your urinary system works, and that can help kidney stones form. Keeping a healthy weight by eating right and staying active helps lower this risk.


6. Digestive Diseases and Surgeries

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Some people have a sickness in their stomach called Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD. This sickness can change how their body takes in things like calcium that it needs. When that happens, it can make it easier for them to get kidney stones.

  • Gastric Bypass Surgery: Some people have an operation called gastric bypass surgery that changes how their body takes in food. This operation can change how their body absorbs important minerals like calcium. When this happens, it can make it easier for them to get kidney stones.


7. Hyperparathyroidism

There's a problem some people have called hyperparathyroidism. This means their body makes too much parathyroid hormone. This hormone helps control how much calcium is in your body. When there's too much of it, your body might have too much calcium in your urine, and that can make kidney stones form.


8. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

  • Struvite Stones: You can get an infection in the part of your body that makes urine. This infection is caused by tiny living things called bacteria. When this happens, a kind of kidney stone called a struvite stone might start to grow in your body.


9. Medications

Some medicines that people take can sometimes help cause kidney stones as a side effect, like certain diuretics and antacids with calcium. If you're taking these kinds of medicines for a long time, it's important to know about the risks and talk with your doctor about ways to help stop kidney stones.


When to See a Doctor

If you have severe and ongoing pain in your back, abdomen, or groin, changes in how you urinate, nausea, vomiting, fever, or chills, you should see a doctor for possible kidney stones. You should also get medical help if you have trouble passing urine, see blood in your urine, have had kidney stones before, or if your symptoms don't go away with home treatments. If you're pregnant or have other health issues and think you might have kidney stones, it's important to see a doctor right away. Early treatment can help manage the problem and prevent complications.


If you have symptoms or are worried about kidney stones, reach out to Center One Medical for expert help and quick care. At Center One Medical, we have people who know a lot about helping with kidney stones. Whether you've had kidney stones before or are dealing with these symptoms for the first time, our medical team is ready to give you personalized treatment. Contact us and make an appointment today for professional advice and care. Your health is our top priority. Take the first step towards feeling better and getting peace of mind.


Conclusion

In conclusion, it's important to know that feeling very worried or stressed might have something to do with getting kidney stones. By learning about how this happens and doing things to feel less stressed, you can help keep your kidneys healthy.



FAQs


1. Can stress directly cause kidney stones?

  • No, feeling worried or stressed doesn't make kidney stones happen by itself. But it can change things in your body that might help kidney stones form.

2. How can stress affect my hydration levels and lead to kidney stones?

  • Stress can change your hydration habits, making you drink less water. This increases the risk of kidney stones forming due to reduced fluid intake.

3. Are there specific stress management techniques recommended for preventing kidney stones?

  • Yes, there are things you can do, like meditation, exercise, and getting enough sleep, which can help you feel less worried or stressed. These things can also help stop kidney stones from forming.

4. Can chronic stress have irreversible effects on kidney health?

  • Yes, feeling worried or stressed for a long time might cause problems for your kidneys that can't be easily fixed, highlighting the need for proactive stress relief.

5. Is there a genetic component to stress-related kidney stone formation?

  • Yes, some people might be born with something in their body that makes it more likely for them to get kidney stones when they feel worried or stressed. This is because of the special things in their body that they got from their parents.

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