The Danger of Developing Kidney Stones if You Suffer From Gout

Kidney stones (renal lithiasis) are not only painful like gout but may be developed due to high uric acid in the blood. If you suffer from gout, you are at an increased risk of developing kidney stones in the future if you don’t watch your diet and treat your gout properly. This is especially true after the age of 40 and even more after the age of 70.

If you are a man, you are more likely to develop kidney stones. One in 20 people with or without gout will develop kidney stones in their lifetime. Once you have already developed kidney stones you are prone to develop them again becoming a recurring illness to deal with.

Kidney stones are basically crystalline minerals that form in the urinary tract. They may cause severe pain in either the stomach or groin area and usually causes blood in the urine.

If you experience less urination or if there is a large number of stone-forming substances in the urine, then kidney stones tend to appear. You’ll get a burning sensation when peeing and like a gout attack, this will be a kidney stone attack!

According to one study, gout is a well-known risk factor for stone formation: a history of gout has been linked to a doubling of the risk of developing kidney stones.

A mix of oxalate and phosphate or calcium may produce kidney stones as well as uric acid and God knows us gout sufferers have plenty of that in our blood. Among the different types of kidney stones, uric acid stones are the hardest to diagnose.

That’s because they are not spotted that easily through an x-ray and since your doctor might stall in diagnosing you. Therefore, this may lead to an enlargement of the kidney stone. That’s why gout has much in common with kidney stones.

Kidney stones, also known as renal lithiasis, are similar to gout in that they both result from a high uric acid concentration in the blood. However, kidney stones, like uric acid crystals, form when minerals such as calcium and phosphate build up and form pebble-like stones in the urinary tract (bladder and kidneys).

This may potentially cause severe pain in the stomach, groin, or lower back. People who have kidney stones will have difficulty urinating without pain.

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How Common Are Kidney Stones Associated With Gout?

Approximately 10 million adult Americans suffer from gout, according to a 2019 study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. In the United States, approximately 10% of adults experience kidney stones, according to a 2018 review article in the Journal of Clinical Urology. However, the likelihood of developing both gout and kidney stones is not well understood.

A 2015 meta-analysis of 17 studies found that 14% of gout patients also had kidney stones. A 2019 observational study in Brazil discovered that 35% of gout patients also had kidney stones.

According to a 2017 Swedish study, people who had gout had a 60% higher risk of nephrolithiasis (kidney stones) than those who did not. The researchers also discovered that gout patients who were male, obese, or diabetic were more likely to develop kidney stones.

Common Symptoms of Kidney Stones

A kidney stone does not usually cause symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or enters one of the ureters. The tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder are known as ureters.

A kidney stone that gets stuck in the ureters may block the urine’s flow, inflame the kidney, and cause the ureter to spasm, all of which may be excruciatingly painful. You might then experience the following signs:

  • Severe, acute pain below the ribs in the side and back
  • When urinating, there may be pain or burning
  • Groin and lower abdominal pain that spreads
  • Wave-like pain with varying levels of intensity
  • ​​small amounts of urination
  • Urine that is cloudy or odorous
  • A constant need to urinate, urinating more frequently than usual, or
  • Urine that is pink, red, or brown
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • If an infection is present, fever and chills may occur

Is Gout Really to Blame for Your Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones, according to the American Urological Foundation, may cause severe and sharp pain, particularly in the back and abdomen, as well as while urinating. They may also cause nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, or excessive urination.

These signs could indicate any of the four types of kidney stones, which are categorized according to their composition:

  • Calcium
  • Uric acid
  • Cystine (from an amino acid)
  • Struvite (from bacteria)

Despite this, there are no signs that specifically point to gout-related uric acid stones. However, they may develop after you’ve already displayed gout symptoms like excruciating pain, redness, and swelling in your joints.

Kidney stones may occur in both men and women of any age, though men are more likely to develop uric acid stones (gout is also more common in men). Your kidney stones might be calcium kidney stones or another type of kidney stone rather than uric acid stones if you are not prone to gout flare-ups or have not been diagnosed with gout.

Why Kidney Stones Are Formed

Uric acid, dehydration, and alcohol may all contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Uric acid crystals that deposit in the kidneys may grow into large stones, causing permanent kidney damage and scarring your kidneys with sharp edges.

In addition, kidney stones may prevent your kidneys from removing wastes and risk causing you an infection. Kidney stones may also eventually lead to chronic kidney disease and even kidney failure meaning you may require dialysis or a transplant to treat the complications that will make you sicker or even kill you!

Kidney stones form when your urine contains a high concentration of minerals and other substances that combine to form crystals, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. One or more stones are formed when crystals combine.

Stones form when there is insufficient fluid and other substances in your urine to prevent them from forming. A kidney stone may be as small as a grain of sand and may pass through your body undetected. A larger one, on the other hand, may obstruct your urine flow and cause severe pain. Some claim the pain is worse than childbirth.

Kidney stones may be caused by a variety of factors, including what you eat and certain medications. You are more likely to develop kidney stones if you or someone in your family has had them.

Factors that Increase Your Chances of Getting Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are not always caused by a single factor, and a combination of factors may increase your chances of developing them. Some of these elements are discussed further below. They include some of the following:

  • Family or personal history: If you have a family history of kidney stones, you are more likely to develop them as well. If you’ve already had one or more kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop another.
  • Not enough water: Make enough urine to dilute the substances that could harden into stones. Your urine may appear dark if you don’t drink enough fluids or perspire excessively. It ought to be clear or light yellow.If you’ve had a stone in the past, you should drink 8 cups of urine per day. Drink about 10 cups of water per day because you lose fluids through sweat and breathing. Replace a glass of water with a citrus-flavored beverage. The citrate in lemonade or orange juice may help prevent stone formation.
  • A poor diet: The same as with gout, what you eat may have a big impact on whether you get one of these stones. When your kidneys produce urine, calcium and oxalate stick together and form the most typical type of kidney stone. Numerous vegetables and healthy foods contain the chemical oxalate. If you’ve had this type of stone in the past, your doctor might advise you to limit foods high in oxalate. Spinach, rhubarb, grits, and bran cereal are a few examples.It’s possible that you’ve heard that drinking milk may cause kidney stones. That is untrue. Oxalate is easier for your body to process if you consume it with calcium-rich foods (like milk and cheese) at the same time. That’s because the two don’t typically combine in the kidneys, where a stone may form, but rather in the gut.
  • Surgery and digestive diseases: Changes in the digestive process caused by gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or chronic diarrhea may affect calcium and water absorption, increasing the amount of stone-forming substances in your urine.
  • Obesity: Obesity nearly doubles the likelihood of developing a kidney stone. When you have a BMI of 30 or higher. Obesity for a 5-foot-10 person begins at 210 pounds. You may improve your health and lose weight with weight loss surgery. However, research indicates that individuals who undergo the most popular weight loss procedure, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, have an increased risk of developing kidney stones. Only weight loss surgeries that result in malabsorption carry this risk.
  • Sodium: This is primarily obtained through table salt. It may increase your risk of developing various kidney stones. So, avoid processed foods, canned goods, packaged meats, and salty snacks.
  • Certain vitamins and medications: Vitamin C, dietary supplements, laxatives (when used excessively), calcium-based antacids, and certain migraine or depression medications may all increase your risk of kidney stones.
  • Issues with your gut: Kidney stones are the most common kidney problem in people with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Diarrhea from bowel problems may cause you to pee less. The intestine may absorb more oxalate, resulting in more oxalate in your urine.
  • Animal proteins: When your urine is overly acidic, one type of kidney stone may develop. Uric acid levels in the body may increase by eating red meat and shellfish. This may build up in the joints and result in gout or it might travel to the kidneys and form kidney stones. More importantly, animal protein increases the calcium content and decreases the citrate content of your urine, both of which promote stone formation.

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The Different Kinds of Kidney Stones

The various types of stones are made of various materials. Knowing what kind of stone you have will help you determine its likely cause and how to avoid it in the future. You should bring any kidney stones you pass to your doctor so that they can identify them by sending them to a lab:

  • Uric acid stones: These appear in people who experience chronic diarrhea or malabsorption-related excessive fluid loss, consume a diet high in purines, have diabetes, or have metabolic syndrome. Specific genetic factors may also increase your risk of developing uric acid stones.
  • Calcium stones: The main component of most kidney stones is calcium, in the form of calcium oxalate. There are two types of calcium stones:1) Calcium oxalate, a substance produced by your liver on a daily basis. It is abundant in some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate. When you eat these foods, your body absorbs the substance. Taking high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery, and certain metabolic disorders may all cause an increase in the concentration of calcium or oxalate in your urine.2) Calcium phosphate stones are more common in people who have metabolic conditions such as renal tubular acidosis (in which your kidneys are unable to maintain proper acid balance in your blood) or in people who take migraine or seizure medications.
  • Struvite stones: These may develop as a result of a UTI (UTI). Ammonia builds up in your urine as a result of the infection-causing bacteria. This causes the stones to form. The stones may quickly grow in size.
  • Cystine stones: This uncommon kind of stone develops when the kidneys release an excessive amount of the specific amino acid cysteine into the urine. They happen in people with cystinuria, a genetic disease.

A 2017 Swedish study has found that gout patients are 60% more likely to develop kidney stones compared to the general population. That is scary!

The study found that the risk is more prevalent in males compared to women and affected mostly the men who were obese and suffered from diabetes as well. The study also emphasizes the importance of taking the proper dosage of allopurinol to limit the risk of kidney stones in the future.

If you suffer from kidney stones the symptoms include not only blood in the urine and pain in your stomach or groin area but nausea, vomiting, cramping, fever, back pain, and even chills!

How Doctors Identify Kidney Stones Caused by Gout

You should visit the physician who treats your gout if you believe you may have kidney stones associated with gout. Your primary care physician, a rheumatologist, or another specialist are a few of the common medical experts you should consult.

They will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. They may also perform blood tests and a test to see if your urine is highly acidic, with a pH level less than 5.5. They may also send a passed kidney stone to a lab for analysis to determine whether it is composed of uric acid.

Treatment for Kidney Stones Caused by Gout

Treatment for kidney stones includes getting rid, or passing, of existing stones and preventing future stones from forming. Most small kidney stones will pass on their own, according to the Mayo Clinic.

However, staying hydrated and taking pain relievers may also help. Other procedures, such as surgery, may be required for larger or more invasive stones.

The truth is that research into the causes and treatment of gout-related kidney stones is limited. However, your doctor may treat each condition separately with lifestyle changes and medications.

Making (and Sticking to) Lifestyle Changes

Here are some important lifestyle changes that your doctor may advise:

  1. Keep an eye on your diet: Reduce your intake of purines, which your body converts to uric acid. He recommends organ meats such as liver, as well as shellfish and red meat. Alcohol, as well as soda and other drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, may aggravate gout and cause kidney stones from uric acid.
  2. Keep hydrated: To maintain optimal kidney function, a person with a history of kidney stones should focus on staying hydrated. Harvard Health recommends that you drink two liters of water per day (about eight 8-ounce cups).Gout patients may also benefit from drinking plenty of water to help their kidneys and avoiding sugary drinks, which might raise their uric acid levels.
  3. Consult your physician about your supplement use: Reviewing your supplement regimen with your doctor is a good idea because some over-the-counter supplements may affect kidney stone formation. For instance, it has been demonstrated that consuming more than 500 mg of vitamin C daily increases the risk of kidney stones. Creatine has also been demonstrated to exacerbate kidney dysfunction in people with kidney diseases.

Medications to Lower Uric Acid Levels

Lowering uric acid levels is an important part of treating gout and, as a result, lowering the risk of gout-related kidney stones. Colchicine and other anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to treat gout pain and stop gout attacks.

Allopurinol or febuxostat may also be prescribed to patients in order to help them maintain a safe uric acid level and prevent worsening symptoms, such as more severe gout and uric acid kidney stones.

You might need to see a rheumatologist and/or a nephrologist if you have kidney stones brought on by gout in order to manage your condition.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These are frequently used to alleviate pain during gout flare-ups. According to the National Kidney Foundation, NSAIDs may increase your risk of sudden kidney failure and potentially progressive kidney damage if you have decreased kidney function.
  • To help patients pass kidney stones, alpha-blockers, a type of blood pressure medication, may be prescribed. However, a 2016 study discovered that alpha-blockers may raise uric acid levels in patients.

It’s crucial to consult with all of your healthcare professionals to determine the best course of treatment for your condition because kidney stones caused by gout may be a sign of a more severe form of the condition.

According to some doctors, pegloticase may lower urate levels and prevent gout flare-ups in patients who still have high uric acid and complications, such as uric acid stones, despite taking medications to lower their uric acid levels.

Additionally, you should make sure that you and your primary care physician are collaborating to address any other health problems, such as weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar, that may be affecting your gout and kidney health.

Don’t Ignore Your Gout and Kidney Stone Symptoms

When any symptoms arise make sure to get medical attention immediately! It is important to drink lots and I mean lots of water, try and drink at least 8 cups but I would drink 12 to 16 cups of water a day.

If you sweat a lot as I do, it is important to stay well-hydrated. Drinking lots of water will flush out sodium and other toxins to help kidney stones pass through the body more quickly. Passing kidney stones may be quite painful but won’t cause you any permanent damage.

Stay away from meats, alcohol, sugary foods, and salty foods and if I were you I’d eat mostly vegetables, so a lot of big salads full of vegetables to make this as comfortable as possible. If worse comes to worst, then surgery will be needed to remove the kidney stones.

If you are passing a small stone, your doctor may recommend you take a pain reliever for the discomfort like Advil, Tylenol, or Motrin. Your doctor may also prescribe a medication to relax the muscles in your ureter, helping pass the stone quicker and with less pain.

What you want to do starting today is change your lifestyle if you want to avoid having kidney stones in the future.

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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