Kidney stones are among the most common kidney conditions. A kidney stone is a hard deposit, consisting of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys.
You may know someone who had to pass a kidney stone. If you do, you likely know that it can be quite painful. But, depending on the situation, you may need nothing more than pain medication and a lot of water to quickly pass a kidney stone. Sometimes, however, the stones become lodged in the urinary tract, causing complications and possibly requiring surgery.
There are several factors that may cause kidney stones. When your urine contains more crystal-forming substances, such as calcium, than your kidneys can dilute and filter, kidney stones are formed. In other instances, your urine may not have the substances necessary to prevent crystals from sticking together, which encourages kidney stones to form.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
You are likely to not even realize you have a kidney stone until it attempts to pass through your system and reaches your ureter, the tube connecting the kidney and bladder.
Some symptoms you may experience when a kidney stone is passing include:
- Severe pain in the lower back and side
- Pain in the lower abdomen and groin
- Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
- Pain when urinating
- Pink, red, or brown urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent need to urinate
- Urinating more than usual
- Fever and chills if an infection is present
- Urinating small amounts
Treatment Depends on Stone Type
Treatment will depend on the type of kidney stone you have. Most small stones do not require invasive treatment and will pass by drinking 2 – 3 quarts of water per day, taking pain relievers, and taking an alpha blocker prescribed by your doctor, if needed.
Large stones that may cause further kidney damage and other issues while passing require more extensive treatment. To break up the stones into smaller, more passable pieces, your doctor may use extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which uses sound waves to create vibrations that break up the stones.
Your doctor may decide that surgery is necessary to remove large kidney stones. Small telescopes and instruments are inserted through an incision in your back. Once the scopes find the stones, special tools are used to break them up so they can pass through the urine.
If you suspect you have a kidney stone and your pain is so severe you cannot find a comfortable position, the pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever and/or chills, or if you have blood in your urine, contact the Urology specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston.