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Kidney stones – Genetics Home Reference

Kidney stones – Genetics Home Reference

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Genetic changes can increase the risk of developing kidney stones, often acting in combination with a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors. Most genes involved in the condition are important for transmitting chemical signals from outside cells to inside cells or transporting materials in and out of cells. These processes help regulate the levels of various materials within cells, including the minerals and compounds that make up kidney stones. Changes in these genes can alter the levels of these materials in cells, leading to an imbalance of minerals and compounds in urine. As a result, the likelihood of stone formation increases.

A key factor that contributes to the development of kidney stones is too little water in the body (dehydration). When a person is dehydrated, they excrete less water in their urine, so the urine becomes concentrated with minerals and compounds that can cluster to form stones. Eating certain foods, such as animal proteins or foods high in sodium, can increase the likelihood of developing stones. A diet deficient in calcium can increase levels of other substances that cause stone development in individuals who have a history of kidney stones. Additionally, people who take certain medications, such as diuretics, which help remove water and salt from the body through urine, or calcium antacids, which treat indigestion by neutralizing stomach acids, are more likely to develop kidney stones.

In most cases, kidney stones occur without any other health issues. However, some people develop kidney stones as part of another condition. About half of people who develop calcium stones have high levels of calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria). Hypercalciuria often runs in families. Some other health conditions that increase the risk of kidney stones include obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (abnormal inflammation of the ), gout (abnormal inflammation in the joints caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood), hyperparathyroidism (overactivity of the ), renal tubular acidosis (kidney dysfunction that leads to too much acid in the blood), and recurrent infections.

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