Calcium stones; Nephrolithiasis
Between 70% and 90% of crystals remain tiny enough to travel through the urinary tract and leave the body in the urine without being noticed. When they do cause symptoms, however, kidney stones have been described as one of the most painful disorders to afflict humans. The pain they cause is sometimes called renal colic. ("Renal" means "kidney.")
Obstruction and Infection. Although kidney stones often lead to obstruction (blockage) of the urinary tract, the blockage is usually temporary and causes no lasting damage. In some cases, however, particularly if the obstruction progresses with no symptoms, infection may occur, which can be serious and need immediate attention.
Kidney Failure. It is very rare for kidney stones to cause kidney failure, although some people have risk factors that make them more vulnerable to this serious complication. Risk factors include the following:
Without treatment, calcium stones recur in 10% of patients within a year of the first attack, and in half of patients within 5 - 7 years. Individual risk for recurrence, however, varies depending on the stone and the underlying condition. For example, a 15-year-old with inherited cystine stones has a very high risk for recurrence, while a middle-aged man with a first calcium oxalate stone has a good chance of never passing another.
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