cystine kidney stones

Cystine Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Have you ever heard of or been diagnosed with cystinuria or cystine kidney stones? Then you must have some basic scientific and diagnostic knowledge on the topic. Today in this article we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments available. Moreover, we will also discuss the formation of cystine stones and what actually cystine is. 

What Is Cystine?

Basically, cystine is the amino acid and whenever a defect occurs in its transportation the condition occurs in the body and cystine starts accumulating in the kidneys where it crystallizes and gives rise to kidney stones. 

So the stones that are formed from the cystine are known as the cystine stones and have symptoms very similar to other kinds of stones. For example, they cause blood in the urine as well as obstruction in the urinary tract. Some people also face renal infection and pain in the kidney area. 

The condition in which the person develops kidney stones is also known as cystinuria. 

Symptoms Of Cystine Kidney Stones 

Knowing the symptoms of cystine kidney stones makes it easier to identify the problem and go for its treatment and diagnosis as soon as possible. 

  • A very sharp and severe pain in the urinary tract that continues throughout the abdominal and urinary tract portion. It occurs particularly on the sides and goes to the back. However, the pain resides mainly below the ribs. 
  • The pain that occurs due to kidney cystinuria is usually in the form of impulses. The intensity of the pain keeps on changing. 
  • The kidney pain often comes in the form of waves and the person experiences up to 4 spasms in one hour. It is important to mention that intensity of the pain also keeps on varying. 
  • The person who has cystine kidney stones often experiences digestive issues and obstacles at the time of urination. Sometimes you also go through severe pain while urinating. 

These were some symptoms of kidney stones that the person experiences when he has cystinuria. However, there can be many other symptoms and signs that indicate the presence of cystine kidney stones in the kidneys.

Other signs and symptoms of kidney stones 

Keep in mind that the symptoms and signs of cystine kidney stones vary from person to person. 

  • Change in the colour and quantity of urine. It can either be yellow or brown in colour. The urine of some people even becomes pinkish. 
  • Sometimes the cystine kidney stones also give rise to various obstructions and infections within the body of the person. The fever due to cystinuria is very intense. The infection can persist if the person has not taken proper medication. 
  • Nausea, fever, anxiety, pain, poor digestion and vomiting are the obvious and immediate signs of cystine kidney stones. 
  • The smell of the urine often changes and it becomes more cloudy with a foul smell. 
  • The person who has cystine kidney stones suffers from severe dehydration. On the other hand, he often feels more need to urinate. Moreover, his pattern of urination also changes and he urinates more often than usual.  

Here it is important to note that the intensity of the pain, as well as its exact location, is often variable. So the accumulation of the cysteine amino acids that results in crystallization often poses different kinds of symptoms.  

Causes of cystine stones

As we have already discussed, it is basically a defective transport of cysteine that gives rise to cystine kidney stones. It results in accumulation of the cystine crystals in the kidneys and intestinal tract. However, there are some other various causes such as the diet containing calcium oxalate. 

Let’s have a look at some of the possible risk factors that can cause kidney stones. 

Risk Factors And Causes

Genetic causes

It is considered a hereditary problem to a great extent however its genetics are quite complicated. There are basically three types of cystinuria including type l, type ll, and type lll. Each type transmits to the next generation in the form of recessive traits. So if each of the parents has this problem, there are strong chances that their child will get cystinuria. 

So if you have observed it in your family, especially parents, there are chances you may develop them if you have got the genetic data. 

Even if you have not got kidney stones yet, there are strong chances of developing them later in your life. 

Diet problem 

Foods that contain high proportions of protein and less quantity of water can give rise to the formation of kidney stones. The reason is that they form large cystine crystals in the kidneys that may enlarge in size if the person does not control them in the diet. 

When this problem combines with other genetic factors, the chances of developing cystine kidney stones significantly increase. 


The lack of proper liquid content causes the crystallization of various cysteine amino acids. The same process may occur within the body if the person does not drink enough water each day. It is due to this reason that people who consume a lot of water content, live in dry climates, or sweat a lot are at higher risk of developing Cystine kidney stones.  

Digestive problems and surgical factors

Recent research has shown that gastric bypass surgery, as well as chronic diarrhea, are directly related to the formation of cystine kidney stones. 

The reason is these two problems directly affect the accumulation of calcium in the body and also impact the water level within the body. On one side causes dehydration while on the other side there is also a crystallization of the minerals which definitely results in stone-forming substance accumulation in the kidneys. 

Various supplements and medications

High intake of various supplements including the ones that contain high protein content and calcium-based antacids also gives rise to the formation of cystine kidney stones. Moreover, the excessive use of laxatives also becomes a risk factor especially when it is combined with other medications. 

Certain medical conditions

According to the latest research, the medical conditions that are related to obesity, protein malnutrition, and genetic causes often give rise to the formation of cystine kidney stones. The most common medical conditions that can cause stones include renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, and urinary tract infections. 

Treatment of cystinuria 

Let’s have a look at some of the authentic treatments available for cystine kidney stones. 

  • First of all, the patient must drink plenty of water because cystine water intake results in cystine dilution. It definitely plays a vital role in dissolution of the crystals and breakage of the strong bonds. 
  • It is also highly advised to reduce the quantity of animal protein and sodium in the diet. As a result, the patient can get rid of excess cysteine in the body. 
  • Theola EC is a medication whose dosage significantly increases the cysteine solubility. 
  • Some doctors also give medications that maintain the pH level of the urine up to 7 which gives rise to increase in the solubility of cysteine in the urine.

So it was all about cystine kidney stones. If you want to know more, stick to our blog.

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