Kidney stones are a common problem that affects both sexes but it affects men much more than women. The condition characterized by the presence of kidney stones is called nephrolithiasis and it is one of the most common urinary tract disorders, along with UTIs. Kidney stones are hard, crystalline formations in the urinary tract, or in kidneys, to be precise. They are usually painful and if they are small enough, they can be passed through urination, which is not necessarily pleasant but relieves the pain and the discomfort. Larger kidney stones cannot pass though the urinary tract with urine and need to be removed in another way.
Causes of kidney stones in men
Kidney stones are made of accumulated crystallized chemicals present in the urinary tract. There are many chemicals and elements that have the ability to form kidney stones, but in most cases the stones are made of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and uric acid.
There are many factors that contribute to the formation of kidney stones in the urinary tract. Those factors include frequent urinary tract infections, use of medications, certain lifestyle habits such as insufficient fluid intake, physical inactivity and consumption of large amounts of sources of calcium oxalate, such as dairy products, tea and chocolate. Of course, just like in many medical conditions, family genetics plays a major role.
It is believed that men are more prone to kidney stones because they have a larger muscle mass. Daily breakdown of the tissue increases the metabolic waste and thus leads to predisposition to kidney stones. The other, probably more significant reason, is the fact that men have more complicated urinary tract than women. As men grow older, their prostate may become larger, which affects the way in which the bladder is emptied. When the urine flow is obstructed, the chance of crystallization is higher.
Treatment for kidney stones
Treatment for kidney stones varies depending on their size. Smaller stones can be passed spontaneously or with the help of increased water intake and proper exercise. However, kidney stones can be too large to pass through the urethra and other parts of the urinary tract. The most common treatment method for those stones is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which breaks large stones into smaller pieces that can be eliminated through urination. There is also a surgical method of removal of kidney stones, called percutaneous nephrolithotomy.
Since kidney stones cause pain, which can be very intense, it is recommended to take over-the-counter pain killers, which will help until the stones are passed.