The kidneys are two bean shaped organs, approximately four inches in length, which filter the blood and produce urine. The kidneys are connected to the bladder by a narrow tube called the ureters, and through this tube urine is passed into the bladder until the body is ready to urinate. Another tube called the urethra carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Kidney stones are stone-like lumps which can develop in one or both kidneys. They are formed out of crystals found in the urine. Usually, the crystals are too small to notice and pass harmlessly out of the body. However, they can build up inside the kidney and become large enough to block the flow of urine causing pain, pressure and infection. Depending on their size and position, untreated kidney stones can permanently damage kidney function.
Kidney stones are quite common, its estimated 10 - 20% of men are affected by kidney stones and 3 - 5% of women, usually aged 30 – 60 (NHS, 2012). Individuals can prevent kidney stones by drinking plenty of fluids every day. Most kidney stones are small enough to be passed in the urine, and symptoms can be treated using medication. Treatment for larger stones includes X-rays, ultrasounds and surgery.