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Diabetes and Kidney Stones: Are These Two Conditions Related?

Diabetes and Kidney Stones

Diabetes and kidney stones are two medical conditions that both affect the kidneys... but are they related in any way?  Is diabetes a predisposition for kidney stones?

While it has long been established that diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, its relationship to kidney stones is not so clear.

Within recent years, researchers have conducted some studies to try to determine whether there is a link between kidney stones and diabetes.  While there has been no clear determination of this issue, the results of some preliminary studies have been rather interesting.

Medical science suggests that there could be a possible link between diabetes and kidney stones, but more extensive studies would be required in order to conclusively determine such a relationship.

A Brief Look At Diabetes

Most people know about the common forms of diabetes mellitus (type I and type II diabetes), however, many people are unaware that there are at least five (5) forms of diabetes:

  1. Diabetes mellitus type I

  2. Diabetes mellitus type II,

  3. Gestational diabetes,

  4. Renal diabetes, and

  5. Diabetes insipidus.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in patients passing a larger than normal quantity of urine, which is usually pale in color. The medical term for passing larger than normal quantity of urine is known as polyuria. This may simply be as a result of a large fluid intake or a more serious condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

  • Diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes are the results of a high concentration of glucose in the blood.

  • Renal diabetes does not cause the blood glucose level to be elevated. This condition is a hereditary deficiency of glucose transporters, which cause glucose to remain in the tubular fluid.

  • Diabetes insipidus results from a deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). Without ADH, the collecting duct does not reabsorb as much water into the body as it normally should, so more water passes into the urine.

The Possible Link Between Diabetes and Kidney Stones

The link between diabetes and kidney stones may not be immediately obvious but it's quite logical.

As previously mentioned, polyuria is passing larger than normal quantity of urine.  In most cases, this is caused by a high concentration of glucose in the renal tubule.  Glucose reduces the re-absorption of water into the body, so more water is passed into urine. If not treated, this can cause severe dehydration.

Dehydration is one of the major risk factors for kidney stones formation.  Dehydration, caused by diabetes, is quite possibly one of the links between kidney stones and diabetes.  A lack of fluids (especially water) increases the concentration of minerals in the kidneys.  This increases the chances of these minerals crystallizing and clumping together, and eventually forming stones.

In one study, a group of researchers looked at the a number of patients with kidney stones in order to determine whether there was link between diabetes and kidney stones.

After studying a randomly selected group of 3,561 patients with kidney stones and taking into account the effects of age, time of year, high blood pressure and obesity, they found that diabetes was significantly associated with diagnosis of kidney stones.  The prevalence of diabetes was 40% among individuals with uric acid stones, versus 9% with calcium stones.

After taking into account the patients' body mass index (the ratio between height and weight), patients with uric acid stones had five (5) times the risk of diabetes.

Although not conclusively linking diabetes with kidney stones, these statistics are quite compelling.  While diabetes cannot be definitively classified as a direct cause of kidney stones, it could be a significant risk factor.  There are other factors, of course, to be considered such as diet, lifestyle habits, and hereditary factors.

Although studies conducted to date have shown no conclusive evidence of a link between diabetes and kidney stones, it is worth further investigation.  Much more extensive research and clinical tests still have to be done in order to conclusively determine whether diabetes, in fact, causes kidney stones.  The results of preliminary studies, however, seem to suggest that there is a high possibility that there could be a link between diabetes and kidney stones.

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