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Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones?

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Kidney stones cause pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen and groin that are crippling and detrimental. This condition is caused because of dehydration, high levels of sodium, stress-induced habits and fluid intake that leads to supersaturated urine and/or high levels of calcium, oxalate and acid in the urine.

Stones are located in the kidney and may eventually be passed out or stuck in the urinary tract. They form in small sizes and sometimes grow into larger sizes. This condition is prevalent in men and women, however, it has a higher occurrence rate in men. They can cause extreme pain and impact the overall quality of life.

Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones?

Stress arises because of your body’s reaction to certain conditions or events. When stressed, your body tries to adapt to new surroundings. These adaptations may sometimes stimulate unhealthy behavior.

This means that stress indirectly causes kidney stones. This is because of the habits cultivated during stressful scenarios to help you cope better. Most times, you may think these habits help, since they give temporary relief when they actually cause more harm than good.

Dehydration is one impact of stress-induced coping mechanisms. People who are stressed have the tendency of resorting to coffee and energy drinks to help boost their energy levels in stress. These fluids may increase your energy level while creating long-term effects that are detrimental to your health.

Other stress habits that affect your health negatively include forgetting to take an adequate quantity of water to keep your body hydrated, sticking to alcohol use, unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, overeating, high intake of sodium (salt)

Stress can cause many problems if not properly managed. These issues can have debilitating effects on your health, functionality and overall well-being.

What Are Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is a debilitating disease in the urinary tract, mostly located in the kidney. They are made up of supersaturated urine, which contains high levels of minerals and salts that become solid pieces of stones.

Each kidney stone varies in type and color. They may start small and develop into larger sizes. Common symptoms include intense pain in the lower back and backside, blockage of urine flow, bloody urine, foul, smelly urine, and urinary tract infections.

Urine is made up of dissolved waste and liquid. However, the number of wastes can sometimes supersede that of the liquid and result in the formation of crystals.

These crystals then become solids with other elements and cause pain and obstruction unless they are passed out of the body. For some people, this may be possible because of high levels of liquid that wash out solid substances.

Stones are passed down from the urinary tract into the ureter or lodged in the kidney and cause pain and discomfort. They can also lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, kidney diseases.

Types Of Kidney Stones

There are four types of kidney stones:

Calcium oxalate: the most prevalent type of kidney stone. This occurs because of high levels of calcium in the urine or a combination of calcium with oxalate. It may also form under normal circumstances.

Uric Acid

This arises from the high production of monosodium urate. Chemical waste products do not dissolve well in acidic urine but form uric acid stones. Factors that can contribute to an increase in uric acid are food high in purine and animal protein, being overweight, high blood sugar, chronic diarrhea.

Struvite / Infection Stones

This is a more severe type of kidney stone associated with chronic urinary tract infection. They grow quickly and are often large.

Cystine Stones

Cystine is one of the building blocks of protein found in certain foods. An excess amount of cystine in the urine often leads to stones.

What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones can sometimes exist without noticeable symptoms and dissipate itself. Most stones start small without signs before growing into larger sizes with more noticeable symptoms.

Pain

Kidney stones are accompanied by pain that is sometimes sharp and unexpected, usually occurring in your lower abdomen or groin. Pain may also be sudden, frequent and in the lower back and side.

Frequent Urination

You may feel an intense urge to urinate with little amounts of urine. Urinating more often and also burning sensation during urination is likely to occur.

Color Of Urine

Urine may be red, dark, bloody or cloudy. You may also experience foul, smelly urine.

Pain In Men

Men are more prone to develop kidney stones than women. There may be a pain at the top of the penis during this condition.

Fever And Chills

An abrupt decrease or increase in temperature levels accompanied by fever is not left out. This is more noticeable in severe cases.

Restlessness

Pain can be very intense sometimes that it causes distress and writhing. This pain may become crippling if it is not treated on time.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Decrease In Urine Volume

Fluids are required to dissolve salts in the urine and inadequate fluids lead to concentrated urine, which makes it difficult to dissolve chemical substances. Factors that can influence a decrease in urine volume include dehydration, tropical environment, low intake of fluids. Taking enough fluids can help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Diet

High levels of calcium in the urine can cause crystallization. This may not be due to how much calcium you take in, but depends on how your body handles calcium. High intake of animal protein like beef, fish, chicken, pork can also affect your acid levels and cause kidney stones.

Reducing your sodium (salt) intake can help decrease urine calcium.

Bowel Condition

Some bowel movements like diarrhea that cause bowel looseness can cause loss of fluids from the body and lower urine volume. This eventually leads to the formation of kidney stones.

Risk Factors For Kidney Stones

Factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones include:

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, blockages in the urinary tract, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, excessive vitamin D intake can increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

Medications

There are medications required to treat underlying medical issues whose side effects can affect your body’s metabolism and trigger inflammation and infections. Calcium, vitamin C and supplements are likely to result in stone formation.

Obesity

Obesity can fluctuate your urine acidic level and high levels of acid in the urine can cause crystallization.

Family History

Individuals with family members who have kidney stones are more likely to develop them than others.

Lifestyle Factors

There are some lifestyle choices and activities with tendencies to form kidney stones. Strenuous exercises, occupations and outdoor professions in tropical environments, and tropical holidays can cause dehydration and result in the formation of kidney stones.

Diagnosis Of Kidney Stones

The process of diagnosis involves a physical examination and series of blood and urine tests to know the cause,  size, shape and position of stones and to determine if it requires medications or surgery.

Treatment For Kidney Stones

Treatment varies for every individual since it depends on the type of stone, its severity, onset, and duration of symptoms. There are two primary treatment methods available for kidney stones:

Medications

These are prescribed in less severe cases as an early intervention for stones. Medications are only prescribed by your doctor or health center after a proper diagnosis of your condition. This is to determine the right procedure for you.

Surgery

Surgery requires a more complicated treatment process needed for chronic issues such as if a stone stays stuck, there is unbearable pain, stones affect functionality, or there is recurrent infection and blockages in urine flow.

Prevention Of Kidney Stones

Lifestyle changes

Diet changes such as drinking enough fluids each day, staying hydrated, and avoiding tropical environments can help prevent stones.

Calcium Intake

Speak to your physician on the right amount of calcium intake suitable for you. This will help moderate your calcium levels, decrease acid in urine and reduce your risk of infections or inflammation.

Healthy Eating

Eat more vegetables and fruits, reduce salt usage, stay away from caffeinated drinks and drink more water. This will improve your health and functionality.

Exercise

Physical exercise can help put your body and cut down on frozen meats, foods high in animal protein. You can also practice stress management techniques to help ease the effects of stress.

Conclusion

Kidney stones can be frustrating and painful. They inhibit the regular functioning of your body. Imagine having to battle with sudden lower abdominal and groin discomfort that may be extremely painful depending on the severity. You do not know when or how the next occurrence will be.

For some people, thinking about it and living in crippling fear of the pain can cause or aggravate stress levels. This is also likely to trigger infections and other medical issues. Hence, it is best to treat kidney stones on time and avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices and stress-induced habits to prevent the prevalence.

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The Pristen Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. National Kidney Foundation: Kidney stones
2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine:
Kidney Stone Disease: An Update on Current Concepts
3. Urology Care Foundation: Kidney stones
4. Austin Urology Institute: Can stress cause kidney stones
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