A late 1990’s study found some evidence that stress can contribute to the onset of kidney stones.(1) However, there were criticisms at the time regarding some of the study’s monitoring methods, and the findings were by no means conclusive. Two decades later, in 2011, another study of a similar scope came up with similar conclusions.(2)
In fact, pretty much every study seeking to correlate stress with kidney stones finds the grounds for further research, but cannot conclusively state that it is a direct cause of the condition.(3) This reflects the fact that a wide variety of different factors have been linked to kidney stones and that beyond some very specific, rare disorders, there is no single clear cause of kidney stones. The best these studies can conclude is that it may be a contributing factor, along with one or more other triggers.
Ironically, the most common type of kidney stone is made of calcium, a staple of a healthy diet.(4) But these stones come from the excess of calcium not used by the bones or muscles. Typically, calcium combines then within the urinary tract and kidneys with the salt oxalate.
The other three types of kidney stones are struvite, made of magnesium and ammonia; uric acid stones, which are the result of abnormally high levels of body acidity; and cystine stones, the rares of all kidney stones. Cystine is used in great quantities by the nervous system, muscles and other portions of the human body.
The good news is that when it comes to kids, it’s actually relatively simple to mitigate against the likelihood of kidney stones.(5) For those who have more of a hereditary link to them or suffer from other most commonly linked causal conditions, drinking lots of water and thus diluting the urine is the simple, easy, best way to go. Secondarily, limiting the intake of animal proteins and salt can also help. Overall, only about 4% of kidney stones in the U.S. involve individuals ages 10 to 19.
(1) Los Angeles Times – “Study Links Stress and Kidney Stones”, December 7, 1997, Retrieved October 4, 2011 from http://articles.latimes.com/1997/dec/07/news/mn-61594
(2) DocGuide.com – “Correlation Between Stress and Kidney Stone Disease”, September 11, Retrieved October 4, 2011 from http://www.docguide.com/correlation-between-stress-and-kidney-stone-disease?tsid=5
(3) International Journal of Epidemiology – “Stressful Life Events and Risk of Symptomatic Kidney Stones”, Retrieved October 5, 2011 from http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/5/1017.full.pdf
(4) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – What I Need to Know About Kidney Stones, Retrieved October 5, 2011 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/Kudiseases/pubs/stones_ez/
(5) CNN – “How Do We Prevent Kidney Stones in Kids”, September 26, 2011, Retrieved October 4, 2011 from http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/26/how-do-we-prevent-kidney-stones-in-kids/