Signs You May Have A Kidney Stone And When To Go To The Er
If you have ever suffered from a kidney stone, you know just how uncomfortable and frustrating these urinary tract stones truly are. In fact, many people consider passing a kidney stone to be among the most painful experiences one can go through. Because the symptoms of a kidney stone often mimic the symptoms of unrelated conditions, however, you may not always realize when you are passing a stone. The dedicated team of board-certified ER physicians and expert staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Frisco and Fort Worth, TX are proud to provide rapid evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for kidney stones to help patients feel comfortable again as soon as possible. Learn more about kidney stones here, including what signs and symptoms may mean an urgent visit to your nearest ER is warranted.
Can Kidney Stones Come Back
After the kidney stone has passed or after it is removed, another stone may form. People who have had a kidney stone in the past are more likely to get another stone in the future.
If you have had a kidney stone, talk with your health care professional about your risk of getting another one. Ask your health care professional what steps you can take to lower your risk of getting another kidney stone.
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Symptoms Of Kidney Disease
In order to understand the more common symptoms of kidney disease, its helpful to review the structure and function of the kidneys. Your kidneys are located on your flanks, near your spine. Injuries to your back or side below your diaphragm may cause injuries to your kidneys. Your kidneys perform several important functions. These include filtering your blood to remove toxins, maintaining the proper levels of electrolytes to ensure proper functioning of your cells, and maintaining fluid balance in your body.
If you become dehydrated, your kidneys initially work to restore the fluid status to your body, but kidney injuries may occur with prolonged or severe dehydration. If your kidneys are not functioning properly, the level of sodium and potassium in your body may be affected. Electrolyte problems with kidney disease can be serious, Since the right amount of potassium is necessary for proper functioning of your heart, kidney problems may result in abnormal heart rhythms.
Abnormal blood pressure, whether high or low can result in kidney damage. Kidney damage, in turn, can cause problems with regulating your blood pressure.
The kidneys are also responsible for making a hormone involved in the production of red blood cells. For this reason, kidney disease can result in anemia, a lower red blood cell count.
Some people have urinary problems, such as difficulty urinating. Occasionally people also have flank pain, due to the location of the kidneys.
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The Evaluation For Kidney Stones
If your , imaging is often the first step in an evaluation. For many years the standard of care was a type of abdominal x-ray called an intravenous pyelogram . In most medical centers, this has been replaced by a type of computed tomography called unenhanced helical CT scanning. In some cases, such as when a person has impaired renal function or a contrast dye allergy, renal ultrasound may be used as an alternative.
You will also have blood tests, including tests for renal function . Your doctor may suggest other blood tests as well. A urinalysis will be obtained and if infection is suspected, a urine culture will be sent.
Risk Factors For Kidney Stones
The greatest risk factor for kidney stones is making less than 1 liter of urine per day. This is why kidney stones are common in premature infants who have kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50.
Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. In the United States, white people are more likely to have kidney stones than black people.
Sex also plays a role. More men than women develop kidney stones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
A history of kidney stones can increase your risk. So does a family history of kidney stones.
Other risk factors include:
- frequent need to urinate
- urinating small amounts of urine
In the case of a small kidney stone, you may not have any pain or symptoms as the stone passes through your urinary tract.
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Can Kidney Stone Symptoms Come And Go
The length of time a stone can hang around is the primary reason that a person may feel like kidney stone symptoms come and go.
Once you start feeling the pain of a kidney stone, it can take anywhere between one to four weeks for the stone to actually pass. In the meantime, the pain can seem sporadic. Heres why:
During a bout of kidney stones, the initial pain is typically caused by the stone making its way through your very narrow ureter tube. There can also be pain if the stone lodges itself there and blocks urine flow out of the kidney, which results in pressure buildup and painful swelling, explains Dr. Kannady.
As your body tries to move the kidney stone through your ureter, some of your pain may also be from the waves of contractions used to force the kidney stone out. The pain may also move as the kidney stone moves along your urinary tract.
Once the stone makes it to your bladder, the pain might subside to some degree and you may notice urinary symptoms in its place. The final push from your bladder to outside of your body can reignite sharp feelings of pain, as the stone is now passing through another narrow tube called your urethra, says Dr. Kannady.
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What Happens During A Kidney Stone Analysis
You will get a kidney stone strainer from your health care provider or from a drug store. A kidney stone strainer is a device made of fine mesh or gauze. It is used to filter your urine. You will also get or be asked to provide a clean container to hold your stone. To collect your stone for testing, do the following:
- Filter all your urine through the strainer.
- After each time you urinate, check the strainer carefully for particles. Remember that a kidney stone can be very small. It may look like a grain of sand or a tiny piece of gravel.
- If you find a stone, put it in the clean container, and let it dry.
- DO NOT add any fluid, including urine, to the container.
- DO NOT add tape or tissue to the stone.
- Return the container to your health care provider or laboratory as instructed.
If your kidney stone is too large to pass, you may need a minor surgical procedure to remove the stone for testing.
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Medical Therapy For Kidney Stones
Most evidence suggests that stones less than 10 mm in diameter have a reasonable chance of passing through the urinary tract spontaneously. You may be offered medical expulsive therapy using an alpha blocker medication, such as tamsulosin. Its important to understand that this is an off-label use of the drug. Rarely, tamsulosin causes a condition called intraoperative floppy iris syndrome that can complicate cataract surgery.
Not all experts feel MET is worthwhile, and its use remains controversial. Discuss your options with your doctor or a urologist.
Getting A Diagnosis And Treatment
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What Do The Results Mean
Your results will show what your kidney stone is made of. Once your health care provider has these results, he or she can recommend steps and/or medicines that may prevent you from forming more stones. The recommendations will depend on the chemical makeup of your stone.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
Imaging Tests For Detecting Kidney Stones
Your doctor can diagnose kidney stones by examining your blood and urine. A blood test can show your doctor if theres too much uric acid or calcium in your blood. A urine test lets your doctor see the level of minerals in your urine. It also shows a lack of certain substances in your urine to prevent kidney stones from forming. Both tests will tell your doctor if you have an infection.
Your doctor may also suggest an imaging test to confirm the presence of kidney stones. Here are common scans used to test and diagnose kidney stones:
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What You Need To Know About Kidney Stones
Aug 07, 2019Cedars-Sinai Staff
Passing a kidney stone is said to be some of the most severe physical pain a person can experience.
You may picture someone passing a kidney stone in excruciating pain while a small rock moves through their bladder, but according to Dr. Brian Benway, director of the Comprehensive Kidney Stone Program, pain peaks much earlier in the stones journey.
Nothing subtle about a kidney stone
Contrary to popular belief, passing a kidney stone once it reaches the bladder isnt the painful part, says Dr. Benway.
The pain usually starts once the stone has migrated from the kidney into the ureter, the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
Basically, for the first-timer with a kidney stone, the symptoms are not subtle.
The pain is usually sudden and quite severe on one side of your back and it can cause immediate nausea and vomiting, says Dr. Benway
Basically, for the first-timer with a kidney stone, the symptoms are not subtle.
This sudden pain will begin to ebb and flow after the first few hours, gradually getting better after a few days. Dr. Benway says you shouldnt wait for the pain to easeseek evaluation right away.
Along with pain, kidney stones can sometimes be associated with infection, which will present itself as a fever, he says.
Go to the ER right away if you have strong pain with nausea or fever.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
Not everyone who drinks too little liquid or who has an excess amount of a chemical in their urine will form kidney stones. Some stones will form in people for other reasons. Those who have had one kidney stone are at an increased risk for developing additional stones.
Other factors that can contribute to the formation or increased risk of kidney stones include:
- A family history of kidney stones
- Presence of a urinary tract infection
- Abnormalities in the structure of the kidneys and/or urinary tract
- Kidney disorders such as polycystic kidney disease, a condition characterized by the presence of numerous cysts in the kidney
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Imaging Tests To Check For Kidney Stones
Two imaging tests to check for kidney stones are a CT scan and an ultrasound. If the first imaging test is not clear, you may need a second test.
In the past, a CT scan was often used as the first imaging test to check for kidney stones. But, because a CT scan exposes people to radiation, the emergency doctor may suggest an ultrasound instead as the first imaging test.
|What is it?||A CT scan uses x-rays and computers to create three dimensional pictures of your urinary tract .||An ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of your kidneys and bladder. It is like the ultrasound used to look at the baby in the womb of a pregnant woman.|
|How is it done?||You lie still on a table that slides into a tunnel-shaped machine. A CT scan does not hurt.||You lie on your back or side, and a health care professional moves a small device around on your belly. An ultrasound does not hurt.|
|Does it expose you to radiation?||Yes, a CT scan exposes you to radiation. Radiation raises the risk of getting cancer.||No, an ultrasound does not expose you to radiation.|
Kidney Stones And Possible Symptoms
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that filter the waste chemicals out of your blood and make urine. A kidney stone is a hard piece of material that forms inside your kidney when tiny mineral crystals in your urine stick together.
Symptoms of kidney stones may include:
- Sharp pain in your back, side, lower belly , or groin that may come and go
- Nausea and vomiting
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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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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.
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What Are The First Signs Of A Kidney Stone
Intense pain in your abdomen, side, lower back, and groin area is one of the first tell-tale signs that you are suffering from a kidney stone. Other signs and symptoms that might make you head to the doctor include:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Fever and chills
- Discolored or foul-smelling urine
Though kidney stones are often associated with pain, there are some kidney stones that pass that you might not even know about. This is because they are small and easily pass through your urinary tract. The bigger stones are usually the troublemakers that send you to the doctor for relief.
Recognizing Signs And Symptoms
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