When Surgery Is Necessary
If you think you might have a kidney stone, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. If youre found to have one, your doctor can help you determine whether to try to pass the stone naturally, take medication, or get the stone surgically removed.
In some circumstances, your doctor might recommend immediate surgical removal without a waiting period. This will usually be because the stone is too big to pass naturally or is blocking urine flow. If the stone is blocking the flow of urine, it can lead to an infection or renal damage.
In other circumstances, your doctor might recommend waiting to see if you can pass the stone on your own. You should check in with your doctor often during this time to see if anything is changing, especially if you have new symptoms.
During the waiting period, your doctor might recommend surgery if the stone continues to grow, youre having unmanageable pain, or you develop signs of infection, such as a fever. Infection, fever, kidney damage, intractable pain, or intractable vomiting are all indications for immediate surgery.
S For Preventing Kidney Stones
If youve ever had a;kidney stone, you surely remember it. The pain can be unbearable, coming in waves until the tiny stone passes through your urinary plumbing and out of the body. For many, kidney stones arent a one-time thing: in about half of people who have had one, another appears within seven years without preventive measures.
Preventing kidney stones isnt complicated,;but it does take some determination.
Kidney stones form when certain chemicals become concentrated enough in the urine to form crystals. The crystals grow into larger masses , which can make their way through the urinary tract. If the stone gets stuck somewhere and blocks the flow of urine, it causes pain.
Most stones occur;when calcium combines with oxalate. Stones can also form from uric acid, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
What Causes Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are formed from substances in your urine. The substances that combine into stones normally pass through your urinary system. When they dont, its because there isnt enough urine volume, causing the substances to become highly concentrated and to crystalize. This is typically a result of not drinking enough water. The stone-forming substances are:
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine, fever, chills or weakness which might be a sign of a serious infection.
- Blood in the urine.
Most pediatric kidney stones remain in the kidney, but up to a third may migrate from the kidney and get stuck in a ureter. Stones that remain in the kidney, although often painless, can be the source of recurrent urinary tract infections. Those that lodge in the ureter can create severe colicky pain.
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How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones
There are several ways to decrease your risk of kidney stones, including:
- Drink water. Drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses every day . Staying hydrated helps you urinate more often, which helps flush away the buildup of the substances that cause kidney stones. If you sweat a lot, be sure to drink even more.
- Limit salt. Eat less sodium. You may want to connect with a dietician for help with planning what foods you eat.
- Lose weight. If youre overweight, try to lose some pounds. Talk to your healthcare provider about an ideal weight.
- Take prescriptions. Your healthcare provider may prescribe some medications that help prevent kidney stones. The type of medication may depend on the type of stones you get.
Don’t Underestimate Your Sweat
Saunas, hot yoga and heavy exercise may be good for your health, but they also may lead to kidney stones. Why? Loss of water through sweating – whether due to these activities or just the heat of summerleads to less urine production. The more you sweat, the less you urinate, which allows for stone-causing minerals to settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract.
One of the best measures you can take to avoid kidney stones is to drink plenty of water, leading you to urinate a lot. So, be sure to keep well hydrated, especially when engaging in exercise or activities that cause a lot of sweating.
Complications Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can range in size from a grain of sand to that of a pearl or even larger. They can be smooth or jagged, and are usually yellow or brown. A large stone may get stuck in the urinary system. This can block the flow of urine and may cause strong pain.;
Kidney stones can cause permanent kidney damage. Stones also increase the risk of urinary and kidney infection, which can result in germs spreading into the bloodstream.
How To Relieve Kidney Stone Pain
This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD. Dr. Chris M. Matsko is a retired physician based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With over 25 years of medical research experience, Dr. Matsko was awarded the Pittsburgh Cornell University Leadership Award for Excellence. He holds a BS in Nutritional Science from Cornell University and an MD from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Matsko earned a Research Writing Certification from the American Medical Writers Association in 2016 and a Medical Writing & Editing Certification from the University of Chicago in 2017.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 80,334 times.
Kidney stones can be extremely painful. If you are dealing with pain caused by kidney stones, there are several things that you can try to help ease kidney stone pain. Make sure that you see a doctor for help treating your kidney stones because kidney stones may become worse without proper medical treatment. Your doctor may recommend some home remedies or prescribe a prescription pain reliever depending on the severity of your kidney stone pain.
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How To Avoid Kidney Stones
Here are the five ways to help prevent kidney stones:
Drink plenty of water:;Drinking extra water dilutes the substances in urine that lead to stones. Strive to drink enough fluids to pass 2 liters of urine a day, which is roughly eight standard 8-ounce cups. It may help to include some citrus beverages, like lemonade and orange juice. The citrate in these beverages helps block stone formation.
Eat calcium rich foods:;Dietary calcium binds to oxalate in your intestines and thereby decreases the amount of oxalate that gets absorbed into the bloodstream and then excreted by the kidney. This lowers the concentration of oxalate in the urine, so there is less chance it can bind to urinary calcium. That leads to decreased risk of kidney stones.
Reduce sodium:;A high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine. So, a low-sodium diet is recommended for the stone prone. Current guidelines suggest limiting total daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. If sodium has contributed to kidney stones in the past, try to reduce your daily intake to 1,500 mg. This will also be good for your blood pressure and heart.
Avoid stone-forming foods:;Beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. If you suffer from stones, your doctor may advise you to avoid these foods or to consume them in smaller amounts.
Ultrasound Shock Wave Therapy
In ultrasound shock wave therapy, sound waves are used to break up the stones. The stone fragments are then flushed away in the urine. This treatment is also referred to as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy . A machine is used to send sound waves from outside of the body through the tissue to the stones. Shock wave therapy typically takes about 30 to 60 minutes when treating simple kidney stones . It can often be done without having to spend the night in hospital. The treatment outcome can be checked using ultrasound or x-ray scans.
Shock wave therapy is especially suitable for kidney stones that are smaller than 20 millimeters in diameter. If the stones are in the upper third of the ureter, they shouldnt be any bigger than 10 millimeters, though.
During shock wave therapy
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How Long Does It Take A Kidney Stone To Form
You can have kidney stones for years without knowing theyre there. As long as these stones stay in place within your kidney, you wont feel anything. Pain from a kidney stone typically starts when it moves out of your kidney. Sometimes, a stone can form more quickly within a few months.
Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors. They might do a 24-hour urine test to check how quickly you develop stones.
Infections Along The Urinary Tract
While most of these infections are simply referred to as a UTI, the location of the infection makes a difference. Lower urinary tract infections are very common and easy to treat, but as the infection travels upwards, it gets more difficult and more dangerous.
- Lower Urinary Tract Infection
A lower urinary tract infection is what we commonly refer to as a UTI. It occurs when bacteria enters the urethra and causes a frequent urge to use the bathroom, burning sensations, dark urine, bladder discomfort, and kidney pain.2
- Bladder Infection
Bladder infections occur when the lower UTI works its way into the bladder. Youll experience similar symptoms, oftentimes persisting for longer periods of time and with an increase in frequency or intensity.
- Kidney Infection
A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, occurs when excess bacteria has built up in the urinary tract and reached the kidneys.1 It is considered an upper urinary tract infection and is much more serious than lower urinary tract infections.
Once the infection spreads to your kidneys, its more dangerous. Kidney infections can be very serious and may require hospitalization. If you think you have a kidney infection, dont hesitate to schedule an appointment with your urologists for a proper diagnosis. In addition to a urine culture, your doctor will need to order imaging tests, blood tests, or a combination of both to confirm the location of the infection.
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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.
Talk To Your Doctor About Preventative Medications
If youre prone to certain types of kidney stones, certain medications can help control the amount of that material present in your urine. The type of medication prescribed will depend on the type of stones you usually get.
- If you get calcium stones, a thiazide diuretic or phosphate may be beneficial.
- If you get uric acid stones, allopurinol can help reduce uric acid in your blood or urine.
- If you get struvite stones, long-term antibiotics may be used to help reduce the amount of bacteria present in your urine
- If you get cystine stones, capoten may help reduce the level of cystine in your urine
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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.”
Diet And Calcium Stones
Follow these guidelines if you have calcium kidney stones:
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water.
- Eat less salt. Chinese and Mexican food, tomato juice, regular canned foods, and processed foods are often high in salt. Look for low-salt or unsalted products.
- Have only 2 or 3 servings a day of foods with a lot of calcium, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, oysters, and tofu.
- Eat lemons or oranges, or drink fresh lemonade. Citrate in these foods prevents stones from forming.
- Limit how much protein you eat. Choose lean meats.
- Eat a low-fat diet.
Do not take extra calcium or vitamin D, unless the provider who is treating your kidney stones recommends it.
- Watch out for antacids that contain extra calcium. Ask your provider which antacids are safe for you to take.
- Your body still needs the normal amount of calcium you get from your daily diet. Limiting calcium may actually increase the chance that stones will form.
Ask your provider before taking vitamin C or fish oil. They may be harmful to you.
If your provider says you have calcium oxalate stones, you may also need to limit foods that are high in oxalate. These foods include:
- Fruits: rhubarb, currants, canned fruit salad, strawberries, and Concord grapes
- Vegetables: beets, leeks, summer squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomato soup
- Drinks: tea and instant coffee
- Other foods: grits, tofu, nuts, and chocolate
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Why You Get Stones
Part of preventing stones is finding out why you get them. Your health care provider will perform tests to find out what is causing this. After finding out why you get stones, your health care provider will give you tips to help stop them from coming back.
Some of the tests he or she may do are listed below.
Medical and Dietary History
Your health care provider will ask questions about your personal and family medical history. He or she may ask if:
- Have you had more than one stone before?
- Has anyone in your family had stones?
- Do you have a medical condition that may increase your chance of having stones, like frequent diarrhea, gout or diabetes?
Knowing your eating habits is also helpful. You may be eating foods that are known to raise the risk of stones. You may also be eating too few foods that protect against stones or not drinking enough fluids.
Understanding your medical, family and dietary history helps your health care provider find out how likely you are to form more stones.
Blood and Urine Tests
When a health care provider sees you for the first time and you have had stones before, he or she may want to see recent X-rays or order a new X-ray. They will do this to see if there are any stones in your urinary tract. Imaging tests may be repeated over time to check for stone growth. You may also need this test if you are having pain, hematuria or recurrent infections.
Treatment Options For Kidney Stones
Small kidney stones often pass out of the body on their own. As long as they don’t cause severe pain or complications, treatment isnt necessary. Larger kidney stones usually need to be treated. Depending on how large the kidney stones are and where they’re located, they can be destroyed or removed using an .
Most kidney stones with a diameter of less than 5 millimeters, and about half of all stones between 5 and 10 millimeters, pass out of the body on their own. These smaller kidney stones are often flushed out in the urine after one or two weeks.
If its thought that a stone will probably be flushed out without any treatment, doctors generally recommend waiting. If the kidney stone causes pain as it travels through the ureter , painkillers like ibuprofen or diclofenac can provide relief.
Larger stones that cause problems will usually have to be broken up or surgically removed. That needs to be done if
- the stone isn’t passed within four weeks,
- there are complications,
- it causes severe colic , or
- the stone is larger than 10 millimeters in diameter.
Uric acid stones can sometimes be dissolved using medication.
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Types Of Kidney Stones
There are four major types of kidney stones, including:
- stones formed from calcium not used by the bones and muscles, combined with oxalate or phosphate these are the most common kidney stones
- stones containing magnesium and the waste product ammonia these are called struvite stones and form after urine infections
- uric acid stones these are often caused by eating very large amounts of protein foods
- cystine stones these are rare and hereditary.
Treatment For Kidney Stones
Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery. Ninety per cent of stones pass by themselves within three to six weeks. In this situation, the only treatment required is pain relief. However, pain can be so severe that hospital admission and very strong pain-relieving medication may be needed. Always seek immediate medical attention if you are suffering strong pain.
Small stones in the kidney do not usually cause problems, so there is often no need to remove them. A doctor specialising in the treatment of kidney stones is the best person to advise you on treatment.
If a stone doesnt pass and blocks urine flow or causes bleeding or an infection, then it may need to be removed. New surgical techniques have reduced hospital stay time to as little as 48 hours. Treatments include:
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