Things That Can Help You Take A Pass On Kidney Stones
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
If youve ever passed a kidney stone, you probably would not wish it on your worst enemy, and youll do anything to avoid it again. “Kidney stones are more common in men than in women, and in about half of people who have had one, kidney stones strike again within 10 to 15 years without preventive measures,” says Dr. Brian Eisner, co-director of the Kidney Stone Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Avoiding Recurrence Of Kidney Stones
If you have had one kidney stone, some tips that may help to prevent a second stone forming include:
- Talk to your doctor about the cause of the previous stone.
- Ask your doctor to check whether the medications you are on could be causing your stones. Do not stop your medications without talking to your doctor.
- Get quick and proper treatment of urinary infections.
- Avoid dehydration. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine volume at or above two litres a day. This can halve your risk of getting a second stone by lowering the concentration of stone-forming chemicals in your urine.
- Avoid drinking too much tea or coffee. Juices may reduce the risk of some stones, particularly orange, grapefruit and cranberry. Ask your doctor for advice.
- Reduce your salt intake to lower the risk of calcium-containing stones. Dont add salt while cooking and leave the saltshaker off the table. Choose low- or no-salt processed foods.
- Avoid drinking more than one litre per week of drinks that contain phosphoric acid, which is used to flavour carbonated drinks such as cola and beer.
- Always talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Drinking mineral water is fine it cannot cause kidney stones because it contains only trace elements of minerals.
Follow These Top Warning Signs Indicating You May Have Kidney Stones
About one out of every ten people will have a kidney stone at some point in their lives, according to the National Kidney Foundation, with stones occurring about twice as often in men. Kidney stones have become more common during the past couple of decades. That increase could be due to the concurrent rise in obesity, which is a potential risk factor for kidney stones.
Kidney stones form when minerals and salts in your blood create hard concretions inside your kidneys. Normally, your kidneys filter out these materials, but when concentrations are high or when your kidneys are overworked or arent working normally, the substances can collect and clump together, forming sharp crystals. Very small stones may be excreted on their own when you urinate. But sometimes, the crystals get stuck and thats typically when most symptoms begin.
Larger kidney stones usually cause significant symptoms almost right away. With smaller stones, the symptoms can be less obvious and more difficult to discern. If you have a kidney stone, getting prompt medical care is essential for preventing complications. Heres a list of some of the most common kidney stone symptoms to watch out for.
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When To See Your Doctor
Kidney pain is almost always a sign that something is wrong with your kidney. You should see your doctor as soon as possible to determine whats causing your pain.
If the condition that has caused kidney pain isnt treated promptly and appropriately, your kidneys can stop working, which is called kidney failure.
Its especially important to see your doctor right away if your pain is severe and started suddenly because this is often caused by a serious problem such as renal vein thrombosis or bleeding into your kidney that needs emergency treatment.
When And How Soon To See A Doctor If You Suspect A Stone
At the time of a first kidney stone attack, people often arent sure what is going on and need to be seen by a doctor to make sure the symptoms arent the result of a more serious problem, such as appendicitis, says Lieske.
As a general rule, you need to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain that makes sitting still or getting comfortable impossible
- Pain with nausea and vomiting
- Pain with fever and chills
- Blood in the urine
- A strong need to urinate
- A burning sensation while urinating
If you cant see your doctor that day, head to the ER.
If stone pain and fever develop, go directly to the ER, says Timothy F. Lesser, MD, a urologist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. A kidney stone with a urinary tract infection may cause and must be treated immediately.
If urine is trapped behind a kidney stone that is blocking the ureter, the urine can become infected, says Seth K. Bechis, MD, a urologist at UC San Diego Health in San Diego. This, in turn, can cause an infection of the kidney tissue or result in the infection spreading to the bloodstream, causing sepsis, he explains.
While men are more prone to kidney stones than women, women are more likely to get UTIs, says Lieske. So its not surprising that women are also more likely to get a urinary infection associated with their kidney stones, he says.
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Whats The Urinary Tract How Does It Work
Your urinary tract is vital to your body because it gets rid of waste and extra fluid. Its made up of both your kidneys, two ureters, your bladder and your urethra. Each organ has an important job :
- Kidneys: Your fist-sized, bean-shaped kidneys are located on either side of your spine, below your rib cage. Each day they filter 120 to 150 quarts of your blood to remove waste and balance fluids. Your kidneys make one to two quarts of urine every day.
- Ureters: After your kidney creates urine, the liquid travels through the tube-shaped ureter to the bladder. There is one ureter per kidney. Kidney stones can pass through the ureters or, if theyre too big, get stuck in them. You may require surgery if the stone is too large.
- Bladder: Between your hip bones is your bladder, an organ that stores urine. It stretches to hold about one and a half to two cups.
- Urethra: Like a ureter, your urethra is a tube through which urine passes. Its the final stop of the urinary tract where your urine leaves your body. This is called urination.
Prevention Of Future Stones
Once your health care provider finds out why you are forming stones, he or she will give you tips on how to prevent them. This may include changing your diet and taking certain medications. There is no “one-size-fits-all” diet for preventing kidney stones. Everyone is different. Your diet may not be causing your stones to form. But there are dietary changes that you can make to stop stones from continuing to form.
Drink enough fluids each day.
If you are not producing enough urine, your health care provider will recommend you drink at least 3 liters of liquid each day. This equals about 3 quarts . This is a great way to lower your risk of forming new stones. Remember to drink more to replace fluids lost when you sweat from exercise or in hot weather. All fluids count toward your fluid intake. But it’s best to drink mostly no-calorie or low-calorie drinks. This may mean limiting sugar-sweetened or alcoholic drinks.
Knowing how much you drink during the day can help you understand how much you need to drink to produce 2.5 liters of urine. Use a household measuring cup to measure how much liquid you drink for a day or two. Drink from bottles or cans with the fluid ounces listed on the label. Keep a log, and add up the ounces at the end of the day or 24-hour period. Use this total to be sure you are reaching your daily target urine amount of at least 85 ounces of urine daily.
Reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
Eat the recommended amount of calcium.
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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.
- chills, fever
- imaging tests to check for additional stones or other problems
- 24-hour urine collection
- blood work
Time Needed For Passing Kidney Stones
The size of kidney stones determine the time needed for their removal from the kidneys. Smaller the size of a stone, the faster it can pass through the urinary tract. For example, a 2mm stones may pass through the kidneys in about 12 days but stones of size 4mm can take about 30 days to pass out.
|Rare genetic disorder: increased cystine in urine|
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Early Signs Of Passing Kidney Stones
Kidney stones often cause extreme pain while they pass via urine however, all kidney stones are not painful. Some kidney stones present noticeable symptoms while they are passed and therefore give a clear indication that you need to visit a doctor. Some of the early signs of passing kidney stones are mentioned below:
How Common Are Kidney Stones
Researchers have concluded that about one in ten people will get a kidney stone during their lifetime. Kidney stones in children are far less common than in adults but they occur for the same reasons. Theyre four times more likely to occur in children with asthma than in children who dont have asthma.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Do I have a kidney stone or is there another reason for my symptoms?
- What type of kidney stone do I have?
- What size is my kidney stone?
- Where is my kidney stone located?
- How many kidney stones do I have?
- Do I need treatment or will I be able to pass the kidney stone?
- Should I be tested for kidney disease?
- What changes should I make to my diet?
- What type of procedure should I have to get rid of the stones?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Kidney stones can be frustrating at best and agonizingly painful at the worst. To stop your situation from getting worse, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. The pain can get severe, and surgery might be necessary. Remember: dont skip your prescriptions, drink lots of water and follow any dietary guidelines. Also, remember that kidney stones are a temporary condition. They wont bother you forever.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/03/2021.
Is It Urgent That The Patient Be Treated With A Procedure Like This
lf the stone does not pass on its own, it will require treatment. lf you have an infection, severe pain, or if your kidney function is threatened, your doctors will act quickly. lf you only have one kidney or have had a kidney transplant, your stone will be treated more quickly. lf you have large stones or stones in both kidneys, your doctors will not wait to treat you.
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How Long Does It Take To Pass A Kidney Stone
The amount of time it can take for you to pass a kidney stone is different from anothers. A stone thats smaller than 4 mm may pass within one to two weeks. A stone thats larger than 4 mm could take about two to three weeks to completely pass.
Once the stone reaches the bladder, it typically passes within a few days, but may take longer, especially in an older man with a large prostate. However, pain may subside even if the stone is still in the ureter, so its important to follow up with your healthcare provider if you dont pass the stone within four to six weeks.
Kidney Stones Symptoms And Treatments
Kidney stones are a fairly common condition that tend to affect people more during middle age . Stones can form in one or both kidneys and quite often can just pass through the urinary system undetected and without causing any pain. Sometimes large stones can get blocked and cause considerable pain called renal colic. In this instance a treatment to break up the stone or surgery may be required.
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How Much Water Should You Drink A Day If You Have Kidney Stones
The general guidelines are to increase the urine volume with oral fluids to above 2.5 liters a day of urine volume . For most people this mean drinking around 3 liters, 0.6 gallons or 12 cups of water a day. The amount of water you should drink a day may change based on your body type, climate, activity level and many other factors. As a rule of thumb, you should drink as much water until your urine color is bright and clear.
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.
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Causes Of Kidney Stones
The most common cause of kidney stones isdehydration. Youre not drinking enough water to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urine . Recommended water consumption is about two liters or half a gallon of water a day.
Water is the best fluid to drink in order to prevent kidney stones, Dr. Abromowitz explains. But water from a well is very high in solutes, which increases your chance of kidney stones. So i f you’re drinking well water, you ought to have a purification system on it. Every year I see patients who develop a kidney stone for this reason.
Other kidney stone risk factors include:
- Too little or too much exercise
- Being overweight
- Eating food with excess salt, sugar, and animal protein
- Weight loss surgery
- Kidney infections. Infections increase the risk of kidney stones by slowing urine flow or changing the acid balance of urine.
- Family history of kidney stones
- Some drugs used to treat AIDS, seizures, and migraines can cause kidney stones.
What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Stones
“A kidney stone is a hard mass that’s made up of minerals , certain salts and other byproducts. They can form when these substances accumulate in the area of your kidneys where urine is produced,” explains Dr. Kannady.
Kidney stones can be as small as the point of a pen or as large as a ping pong ball.
“Typically, a person doesn’t start noticing the symptoms of a kidney stone until it moves from the kidney into the ureter, which is the tube that carries urine from your kidney to your bladder,” Dr. Kannady adds.
Kidney stone symptoms include:
- Sharp pain in the lower abdomen, typically on one side
- A burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Urinating frequently
- Feeling like you’re urinating incompletely or in small amounts
- Urine that is brown, red or pink, which indicates the presence of blood
- Smelly or cloudy urine
- Feeling queasy or nauseous due to the intensity of the pain
- Signs of infection, including fever, chills and vomiting
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