Stress and Kidney Stones

Breaking off a marriage, having a loved one die, getting sued or recovering from a life threatening accident does more than just hurt your wallet or your brain; it also hurts your body. Studies have shown that stress, whether from everyday problems like work stress or big life changing problems, is linked to the cause of kidney stones.

Kidney Stones disease occur in over 200,000 people a year in the United States. Kidney stones are minerals and acid salts that clump together over time into a small pebble shape in your urinary tract and cause immense pain. Many times kidney stones are formed and do not cause pain until it reaches your kidney or bladder. Other than severe pain, if you encounter other symptoms of kidney stones like pain on the side and back, below the ribs that radiate to your lower abdomen and groin, colored urine or foul smelling urine, nausea and vomiting, fevers or chills, you should go to a doctor right away.

There are many causes to kidney stones but one of the most common reason is dehydration causing lack of water in the kidney to dilute uric acid and other toxins in the body. At the same time, the urine in your body may lack substances to prevent crystallization of minerals causing these small but painful stones to form. Kidney stones form in adults between the age of 30 to 50 years old. However, hereditary kidney stone disease can cause stones at an earlier age.

Causes of kidney stones can be deciphered by the type of kidney stone present, allowing less risk of repeating habits or practices that form them. Calcium stones are crystals made of calcium oxalate which is a substance found in food like some fruits vegetables, nuts and chocolate and is made by your liver. Dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D or metabolic disabilities can increase calcium concentration in urine. Struvite stones form due to infection in the urinary tract (UTI). They grow fast with very little warning. Uric acid stones form when you do not drink enough fluids to dilute urine, those who have high protein diet or those with gout, which is a form of inflammatory arthritis. Cystine stones are formed from a hereditary disorder that causes the kidney to let out too much of an amino acid called cystinuria.

In an experiment to correlate stress to kidney stones completed by Miyaoka, 200 patients with kidney stones took a questionnaire to measure stress on a perceived stress scale -10 (PSS-10). Stone characteristics and stress factors were assessed. Results of the experiment showed that the average score was 15.3, with a error range on 1.1. For woman, recent death of a family member or illness, or psychological trauma proved to be significant factors as the patients were going through symptoms of kidney stone disease throughout the time of their crisis.

Austin Urology Institute states that stress, in fact, is an indirect cause of kidney stones. Since the common reason for stone formation is dehydration and high urine concentration, stress can lead to a bad cycle of poor diet, less exercise, and low sleep quality as well as an increase in caffeine intake. Stress sets off a chain reaction of behaviors that cause harm or is unhealthy to the body. Without correct management of stress, kidney stones and other diseases will form in the body.

To prevent the formation of kidney stones, there are a few measures you can take. By decreasing oxalate in your body, you will remove one of the major causes of the most common stones. Through exercise as a stress reducer, drinking more water, less caffeine intake and living a healthier lifestyle by sleeping well and watching your diet can significantly decrease your chances of forming kidney stones.

Walida Ali