When To See A Doctor For Kidney Stones
People often seek immediate medical attention for kidney stones due to the excruciating pain and nausea theyre experiencing. If they havent had stones before, their symptoms can be quite daunting. A lot will say, I thought I was dying, says Dr. Pearle. Always seek immediate medical attention if you have severe pain, vomiting, bleeding, or signs of infection.
Smaller stones often pass on their own. How long it takes to pass a kidney stone varies from person to person and by the size and location of the stone. If a stone is too large to pass on its own or is causing other problems, you may need to have it removed with lithotripsy or kidney stone surgery. If left untreated, kidney stones could lead to kidney damage if they block the flow of urine.
Some doctors suggest taking painkillers and boosting daily water intake to help flush out the troublesome mass. If youre vomiting, youre probably dehydrated anyway, so additional fluid cant hurt. And staying well hydrated does reduce the risk of developing future kidney stones. A type of muscle relaxing medicine called an alpha blocker may also be prescribed to help speed up kidney stone passage and reduce pain.
Even if you think the stone has passed, always follow up with a doctor because symptoms can come and go.
Passing Kidney Stones Will Probably Hurt
Passing kidney stones is rumored to be very painful, and each person will have a different experience. Being prepared for the pain and talking with your doctor about it can help to ease your fears. Plus, your doctor may be able to prescribe you a medication such as alpha blockers that can help ease kidney stone pain.
Depending on the size of your kidney stones, some may be more painful to pass than others. Even if your kidney stone is smaller than 5mm and is able to be passed naturally, it will likely cause discomfort in your back, sides and urinary tract. If pain becomes severe, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
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How Do I Know If I Have Ureteral Obstruction
If you suspect you have ureteral obstruction, you should see your doctor. Some of the signs of a blocked ureter are similar to symptoms of other conditions that need treatment, such as urinary tract infections , having pain, or not getting good urine output even when you drink plenty of fluids. Its important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
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What Can Cause Urethra Pain After Passing Kidney Stones
While pain can ease once the stone reaches your bladder, it can become painful again as it leaves your body through the urethra. Passing a large stone can irritate the urethra, but it should be temporary.
Urethral pain can be due to a number of factors aside from passing a kidney stone. Continuing urethral pain should be assessed by a doctor.
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Symptoms Associated With Kidney Stones
When a kidney stone starts to pass, symptoms typically occur suddenly and without warning. Sharp, stabbing pain usually develops in your side or back, typically right at the bottom part of the ribcage. Sometimes, the pain will travel downward into the genital area. Stones that have nearly passed into the bladder may be associated with an intense urge to urinate.
Stone pain typically comes and goes. After an initial period of severe pain, you may feel better for a few hours before developing another attack. Many patients will require medication to help with stone pain.
Nausea and vomiting are also very common and are often a reason for hospital admission during stone attacks. You might also see blood in your urine. This can be unsettling to many patients, but is generally not life-threatening.
The most concerning symptom during a stone attack is fever, which indicates that you may have an infection in addition to a kidney stone. This is a potentially life-threatening combination and requires immediate evaluation and treatment.
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Whats The Outlook For Kidney Stones
The outlook for kidney stones is very positive, although there is a risk of recurrence . Many kidney stones pass on their own over time without needing treatment. Medications and surgical treatments to remove larger kidney stones are generally very successful and involve little recovery time.
Its possible to get kidney stones multiple times throughout your life. If you keep developing kidney stones, your healthcare provider may work with you to discover why the stones happen. Once the cause is found, you may be able to make dietary changes to prevent future stones.
How Does Passing A Kidney Stone Feel
Small stones can pass without any symptoms at all, but larger stones can be a problem.
As long as the stone is in the kidney and not blocking the flow of urine, you probably wont feel it. Eventually, the stone leaves the kidney and enters the ureter on its way to the bladder.
The ureters are tiny, about 1/8 inch wide, so if a stone cant move through, its hard for urine to flow.
This can cause swelling and incredibly painful spasms . Youll feel a sharp, stabbing pain in your side or back, below the ribcage. Pain sometimes radiates to the groin and genitals.
You might find that the intensity of the pain changes as you change position and as the stone continues its journey through your urinary tract. Youll probably find it near impossible to lie still, tossing and turning in an effort to stop the pain. Pain can subside for several hours before returning.
- blood in the urine
The pain tends to ease up once the stone reaches the bladder. If the stone is small, or has broken into small pieces, you may not feel it as it flows from the bladder, through the urethra, and out with the urine.
Stones dont usually block the urethra, since its twice as wide as the ureters, but a larger stone can cause resurgence of pain.
A doctor will likely start with a physical examination and discussion of your symptoms. Diagnostic procedures may include:
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If You Think You Have A Kidney Stone
If you have been diagnosed with a kidney stone, please call 362-8200 to schedule an appointment for evaluation and treatment we will do our best to make sure you are seen promptly. You may be directed to the emergency department if you are experiencing intractable nausea, vomiting, pain or fever so that urgent treatment can be given.
We have a very limited number of same-day appointments therefore, it is likely that you will be directed to the emergency department for rapid evaluation. There, they will obtain scans and labs that will help confirm the diagnosis of kidney stones. From that information, we can make an informed decision about your treatment.
If you have recently passed a stone, you should have close follow-up with a urologist. Our team of stone experts can accommodate you at any of our clinic locations.
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Can A Large Kidney Stone Cause An Injury
Your risk of injury from a kidney stone can go up based on the size and location of the stone. A larger stone could get stuck in a ureter, causing pressure to build up. This can lead to renal failure and, in the worst-case scenario, you could lose your kidney. The chance of passing a 1 cm stone is less than 10%, and stones larger than 1 cm typically dont pass.
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Youve Probably Heard That Passing A Kidney Stone Can Be Very Painful But You Might Not Know Exactly What They Are Or How To Avoid One In The First Place
Kidney stones and passing a kidney stone, in particular are notorious for being painful. Theyre also surprisingly common. In fact, 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States will have a kidney stone at least once in their lifetime.
While kidney stone pain is unmistakable, its also possible to have a kidney stone and not even know it. If the stone is small enough to pass through your urinary tract, it may cause little to no pain at all but if its large and gets stuck, you may have severe pain and bleeding.
Kidney stones that cause symptoms or cannot pass on their own need to be treated by a medical professional.
What are kidney stones?
The kidneys two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage on each side of the spine filter waste and extra water from the bloodstream to create urine. From the kidneys, urine then moves through two thin tubes, called ureters, into the bladder.
In addition to filtering waste, the kidneys also regulate water, salt and mineral levels in your blood. Renal calculi, the medical term for kidney stones, form when there is a high level of these minerals in the urine.
Are there different types of kidney stones?
Kidney stones can range in size and shape, with some as small as a grain of sand, others the size of a pebble and less commonly, some growing as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones can also be made of different substances, and they are divided into four common types.
The types of kidney stones are:
How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and possibly order some tests. These tests include:
- Imaging tests: An X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound will help your healthcare provider see the size, shape, location and number of your kidney stones. These tests help your provider decide what treatment you need.
- Blood test: A blood test will reveal how well your kidneys are functioning, check for infection and look for biochemical problems that may lead to kidney stones.
- Urine test: This test also looks for signs of infection and examines the levels of the substances that form kidney stones.
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What Is A Kidney Stone
A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine. A kidney stone may be treated with shockwave lithotripsy, uteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithomy or nephrolithotripsy. Common symptoms include severe pain in lower back, blood in your urine, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, or urine that smells bad or looks cloudy.
Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine. Usually, these chemicals are eliminated in the urine by the body’s master chemist: the kidney. In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming. The stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter. Sometimes, tiny stones move out of the body in the urine without causing too much pain. But stones that don’t move may cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This is what causes the pain.
Do I Need To Go To The Er For A Kidney Stone
In some cases, small kidney stones can pass on their own without the need for medical or surgical intervention. However, larger kidney stones often require treatment to make it possible for them to pass through the urinary tract. Additionally, stones with an extremely low probability of passing on their own may require surgical extraction. Because untreated stones can lead to a host of other complications, including infection, severe pain, and prolonged illness, it is important to seek evaluation in order to determine whether your stone may pass on its own or whether you need more immediate intervention.
In cases of severe, prolonged, or worsening symptoms related to a kidney stone, patients should visit their nearest ER in Frisco or Fort Worth. This includes:
- Blood in the urine
Furthermore, your provider can help you better understand what may have caused your kidney stones and offer guidance on how to prevent developing additional stones in the future. This may include recommendations regarding your diet, lifestyle, fluid intake, current medications, and more.
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When To See A Urologist
Kidney stones that do not receive the proper medical treatment can ultimately cause bleeding, urinary tract infections, and organ damage/failure. If you suspect you might have a kidney stone or are having complications with your renal system seeing a urologist is strongly recommended.
Contact our office to be seen by a specialist to provide personalized care and treatment for all your urology needs.
Where Do Kidney Stones Come From
Kidney stones form develop when certain substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, become concentrated enough to form crystals in your kidneys. The crystals grow larger into stones. About 80% to 85% of kidney stones are made of calcium. The rest are uric acid stones, which form in people with low urine pH levels.
After stones form in the kidneys, they can dislodge and pass down the ureter, blocking the flow of urine. The result is periods of severe pain, including flank pain , sometimes with blood in the urine, nausea, and vomiting. As the stones pass down the ureter toward the bladder, they may cause frequent urination, bladder pressure, or pain in the groin.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your primary care physician, says Dr. Eisner. He or she will likely perform a urinalysis and a renal ultrasound, abdominal x-ray, or CT scan to confirm kidney stones are the source of your pain and determine their size and number.
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Getting A Diagnosis And Treatment
Considering Your Risk Factors
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How Do You Know If You Are Passing A Kidney Stone
Passing kidney stones typically triggers pain, urinary problems and other unique symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. Most people do not know they have kidney stones because they have no symptoms until the stones begin to travel within the kidney and to the bladder.
When kidney stones begin to move, the stones can cause pain while urinating, cloudy urine, urine with an unusual smell, and blood in the urine that causes red, pink or brown urine, according to Mayo Clinic. People who are passing kidney stones may also experience the urge to urinate more frequently or have difficulty urinating.
Severe pain at the side or back, below the ribs, is also a typical symptom of passing kidney stones, notes Mayo Clinic. Sometimes the pain may radiate to the groin or abdomen. Kidney-stone pain also fluctuates in intensity depending on the movement of the stones within the body. If the stones caused an infection, someone passing kidney stones may experience a fever and chills.
People can pass small stones without medical intervention, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors recommend that people passing stones drink large quantities of water. A physician may prescribe an alpha blocker to relax the muscles of the ureter and pain medication to make the experience less painful. Larger kidney stones require surgical intervention to remove the stones or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to break up the stones into small pieces.
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