How Do Kidney Stones Form
Most stones form just under the inner surface of the kidney. Small crystals in your urine fuse together, similar to the way salt crystals form from evaporating saltwater.
More crystals can bind over time until a stone is formed. The stone can then continue to grow bigger and ultimately become so heavy that it breaks off within the kidney. Once free to move around, it can either stay in the kidney or try to pass down the ureter.
What Does Passing A Kidney Stone Feel Like 5 Stories To Consider
If youve ever wondered what passing a kidney stone feels like, a quick search on the internet can give you a bit of a clue.
For instance, in a forum on Thumper Talk, one poster shared a story of how pain on the left side of their back appeared out of nowhere, disappeared after a couple of hours, and then came back in the middle of the night. After going to the emergency room and learning that the problem was a kidney stone, follow-up doctors appointments were set. However, the pain went away in the meantime. It wasnt completely over, though, because about two weeks later the person felt a pain similar to giving birth.
And in a discussion board on What to Expect, a website dedicated to pregnancy and parenting, one poster shared the following: s I sat down I had this pain like needles or someone pinching my with sharp nails. I felt like if I pushed my pee out it would hurt more & something would come out. Thats exactly what the poster did, and she noticed this little rock looking thing both when she wiped and another in the toilet. The same experience happened once again after that, but it wasnt until she went to her doctor that she found out she had actually passed kidney stones.
Plus, there are some people who pass kidney stones and dont even realize it. With any luck, youll be one of them.
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How Long Do Kidney Stone Symptoms Last
As mentioned, the time frame for these symptoms can be as short as a week or up to a month and beyond. So, even if it feels like your kidney stone pain has subsided, it’s important to reach out to your doctor since sporadic pain is common with this condition.
“While some kidney stones pass on their own, others require treatment such as medications or procedures to help break up the stone or even surgical removal. Your doctor can perform the tests needed to determine whether the stone is likely to pass on its own or if you might need treatment. In addition, your doctor can help you manage the pain associated with passing the stone,” adds Dr. Kannady.
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Whos Most Likely To Get Kidney Stones What Are The Risk Factors
White men in their 30s and 40s are most likely to get kidney stones. However, anyone can develop kidney stones.
There are several risk factors for developing kidney stones. These include:
- Not drinking enough liquids.
- Having a diet that includes the substances that form the stones .
- Having a family history of kidney stones.
- Having a blockage in your urinary tract.
Certain medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing stones. This is because they may increase or decrease levels of the substances that make up a kidney stone. These conditions can include:
- Hypercalciuria .
Certain foods can also place you at risk of a kidney stone. These foods include:
- Meats and poultry .
- Sodium .
- Sugars .
Kidney Stones Vs Utis: Prevention Tips
Both kidney stones and UTIs can be prevented. Here are the tips you need to prevent their occurrence.
Kidney stone prevention tips:
- Drink plenty of water and prevent dehydration.
- Reduce your intake of oxalate-rich foods: rhubarb, beets, tea, okra, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts.
- Eat a diet low in animal protein.
- Eat calcium-rich foods, but be mindful of calcium supplements check with your doctor if you really need them.
Urinary tract infection prevention tips:
- Stay well hydrated throughout the day.
- Wipe front to back to avoid contracting the infection.
- Urinate soon after intercourse.
- Avoid irritating feminine hygiene products.
- Change your birth control method diaphragms, as well as unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms can all contribute to bacterial growth.
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Symptoms Of Kidney Pain
- A dull ache that’s usually constant
- Pain under your rib cage or in your belly
- Pain in your side; usually only one side, but sometimes both hurt
- Sharp or severe pain that may come in waves
- Pain that can spread to your groin area or belly
Other symptoms that can happen with kidney pain
The symptoms of your kidney pain depend on its cause. With kidney pain you may also have:
- Blood in your urine
Signs Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are crystals that develop in the kidneys and are often extremely painful. The stones may block urine flow and can, in severe instances, result in renal failure. The most common type of kidney stone forms when calcium and oxalate clump together in concentrated urine. A less common type, composed of uric acid, is more common in men than in women. Often, the stones are small enough to pass unnoticed through the ureter, the tube connecting the kidney and bladder. Occasionally, larger stones can become lodged and require treatment.
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How Are Children Treated For Kidney Stones
Most childrens kidney stones can be treated with the shock wave lithotripsy , a completely non-invasive procedure. Your child is placed under anesthesia and sound waves of specific frequencies are focused on the stones to shatter them into fragments small enough to be easily passed during urination.
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. Here’s 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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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.
How Kidney Stones Are Diagnosed
There are several tools doctors can use to diagnose kidney stones, according to the NIDDK. After talking to you about your symptoms and doing a physical exam, your doctor may order these tests as well:
Urinalysis: This is a test of your pee that can show whether your urine contains high levels of minerals that form kidney stones. A urinalysis can also tell whether your pee has blood, bacteria, or white blood cells in it .
Blood tests: Your doctor may want to take a sample of your blood to test for high levels of certain minerals that can lead to kidney stones.
Abdominal X-Ray: This is a picture of your abdominal area that can potentially show the location of kidney stones in your urinary tract. One major caveat, though: Not all kidney stones can be seen on X-ray.
Computed Tomography Scan: CT scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create images of your urinary tract. In some cases you might be given an injection of contrast medium, a dye or other substance that makes certain things inside your body easier to see during imaging tests.
What Is Kidney Pain
Kidney pain is discomfort that comes from the area where your kidneys are. It’s often described as a dull ache, you feel in your sides, back, or belly. But pain in these areas isn’t always a sign of a kidney issue. It’s easy to mistake kidney pain for ordinary back pain. But there are some differences in how kidney pain feels and where it’s located compared to back pain.
Kidney pain has many possible causes, and some could be serious. It’s important to let your doctor know if you notice pain that you think may be coming from one or both of these organs.
Where are your kidneys?
Your kidneys are two small organs shaped like beans. You have one on each side of your body. They’re each about the size of your fist. They’re below your rib cage on both sides of your spinal cord.
Your kidneys have important jobs. They clean out water, acids, and waste from your blood. They make urine so your body flushes out the waste. If they’re diseased or damaged in some way, they can’t do their work to maintain a healthy balance of salts, minerals like calcium, and water in your blood.
Your kidneys also make hormones that help you manage your blood pressure, keep your bones strong, and make red blood cells.
So it’s important to watch for any signs of kidney disease or damage, like pain.
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.
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Should I Cut Calcium Out Of My Diet If I Develop Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
If you develop kidney stones composed of calcium, you may be tempted to stop eating foods that include calcium. However, this is the opposite of what you should do. If you have calcium oxalate stones, the most common type, its recommended that you have a diet higher in calcium and lower in oxalate.
Foods that are high in calcium include:
- Cows milk.
Its also important to drink plenty of fluids to dilute the substances in your urine.
Types Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stonesvary in composition depending on the type of minerals in the urine:
- Calcium forms about 80 percent of kidney stones mostly calcium oxalate and, in some cases, calcium phosphate.
- Uric acid crystals tend to form stones in acidic urine. The following contribute to acidic urine: excess weight, chronic diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, gout and diets high in protein and low in fruits and vegetables.
- Struvite forms in alkaline urine, often related to chronic urinary tract infections.
- Cystine is an amino acid that forms stones when in high concentration, due to a rare inherited condition. This is the rarest form of kidney stones.
Stones that form in your kidneys are not the same as bladder stones. Bladder stones develop in different ways. But small kidney stones may travel down the ureters into your bladder and, if not expelled, can grow into bladder stones.
The most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration. Youre not drinking enough water to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urine.
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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.
How To Prevent Kidney Stones
What you can do to prevent future kidney stones depends on the type of stone and your medical history, so youll want to speak with your doctor about your options, Simon says. Prevention strategies might involve drinking plenty of water, making dietary adjustments , or taking various medications to help moderate the levels of certain minerals in your urine, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Additional reporting by Claire Gillespie.
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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.
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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When To Contact A Doctor
A person who is experiencing kidney pain should contact a doctor as soon as possible to find out what is causing it.
People must contact a doctor to diagnose and treat kidney pain. Receiving the correct treatment ensures that the kidneys do not become damaged, which can lead to kidney failure.
Doctors may order tests such as:
- urine tests, which can help them identify any infections
- imaging tests, such as CT or ultrasound scans
- cytology, which can help them identify cancer cells in the urine