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What are kidney stones?

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Kidney stones are small, hard deposits made of mineral and acid salts that form inside the kidney, states Mayo Clinic. Stones often form when minerals stick together when the urine becomes concentrated. Types of kidney stones include struvite stones, cystine stones, uric acid stones and calcium stones.

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Kidney stone symptoms include pain during urination, severe pain in the back and side, discolored urine, reduced urination and nausea, explains Mayo Clinic. Symptoms may not appear until the stone shifts in the kidney or passes into the ureter. Symptoms such as blood in the urine, severe pain, difficulty passing urine and pain accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting require immediate medical attention. There is no definite cause of kidney stones as of 2015.

Tests such as blood testing, urine testing, imaging and analysis of passed stones diagnose kidney stones, according to Mayo Clinic. Drinking water, taking pain relievers and medical therapy treat small stones with mild symptoms. Using sound waves to break stones, removal through surgery, removal of stones with a scope and parathyroid gland surgery treat large stones with adverse symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as drinking more water, adapting a diet low in salt and animal protein, eating less oxalate-rich foods and eating more calcium-rich foods reduce the risk of kidney stones. Medicines such as a thiazide diuretic, allopurinol and antibiotics also treat kidney stones.

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