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.
Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented
It’s not always possible to prevent some types of kidney stones.
But anyone who’s had kidney stones should:
- Drink a lot of liquids throughout the day. Avoid dark sodas, soft drinks, and sports drinks. If their pee is almost clear, that’s a sign they’re drinking enough. Ask your doctor how much you should drink.
- Limit the salt and protein in their diet.
If dietary changes don’t prevent kidney stones, medicines can help. Depending on the type of kidney stone you had, the doctor can prescribe treatments or medicines to lower the levels of crystal-forming substances in the pee.
Doctors will keep an eye on teens who have had kidney stones and try to prevent new ones. The doctor might have you use a 24-hour urine collection test. This measures the volume of pee within a 24-hour period and checks what’s in it.
Kidney stones aren’t usually a worry for most teens, though it’s always a good idea to eat healthy foods and drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration.
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The pain associated with kidney stones has been described by some as more excruciating than childbirth. Kidney stones are small, hard stones, formed when high levels of minerals in your urine start to crystallize in your kidneys, forming a pebble-like mass. The pain comes when these stones migrate from your kidneys through the ureters, which are the narrow tubes that carry urine from your kidneys into your bladder.
“Kidney stone pain is not subtle,” says Dr. Gary Curhan, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It typically starts in the flank, at the side of the lower back. Sometimes if the stone moves, the pain migrates to the front of the body.
Occasionally a stone gets stuck as it enters the bladder and causes symptoms such as a feeling of urgency or frequent urination that can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection or bladder irritation.
There are actually several different types of kidney stones with different causes. The most common types are
The stones themselves vary in size, from as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball.
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When Should Call A Doctor For Kidney Pain
Individuals should not postpone seeing a doctor about kidney pain or flank pain. Although flank pain is often seen in underlying problems with the kidney, there are many other diseases that can mimic kidney pain, and a physician can help with an accurate diagnosis of underlying problems that result in kidney or flank pain. Any acute onset of intense kidney or flank pain should be evaluated immediately.
Warning signs that kidney disease is present and may result in kidney pain or flank pain are the following:
- High blood pressure
- Swelling of the hands and feet and/or puffiness around the eyes
- Testing that shows an abnormal creatinine, blood urea nitrogen , or glomerular filtration rate less than 60
In addition, if an individual has diabetes or any of the congenital problems that lead to kidney dysfunction, the individual should be routinely checked for the onset of kidney dysfunction or kidney failure by their physician.
What Kidney Stone Pain Feels Like And Where Youll Feel It
Not all kidney stone pain is the same. For example, the location of pain can change as the stone moves from the kidney to the bladder, says Lieske. When a stone is moving into the ureter, people may feel pain in their flank, or side, or their back, he says.
Notably, if the stone is stuck where the kidney connects to the ureter, the pain can be severe, says Ralph V. Clayman, MD, a professor in the department of urology at the University of California in Irvine. On a scale of 1 to 10, pain can be a 10, he says.; There is no position in which the person is comfortable.
This type of pain has a tendency to come and go in 10- to 30-minute cycles. It can also radiate to the groin area and the front of the thigh, he adds.
Once the stone has moved down to the part of the ureter closer to the bladder, a person tends to have pain in the abdomen or groin, says Lieske. Men sometimes feel pain at the tip of their penis.
As the stone moves down the ureter, it can also mimic the pain of other conditions, says Clayman. For example, if the kidney stone is on the right side of the body, it may feel like appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix. If the stone is on the left side, people may mistake the pain for diverticulitis, inflammation, or an infection within the small or large intestine, he says.
Fortunately, from this point, the stone can usually pass from the bladder out the urethra, which is typically twice the diameter of the ureter, says Clayman.
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Why Do Doctors Examine The Contents Of The Stone
There are four types of stones. Studying the stone can help understand why you have it and how to reduce the risk of further stones. The most common type of stone contains calcium. Calcium is a normal part of a healthy diet. The kidney usually removes extra calcium that the body doesn’t need. Often people with stones keep too much calcium. This calcium combines with waste products like oxalate to form a stone. The most common combination is called calcium oxalate.
Less common types of stones are: Infection-related stones, containing magnesium and ammonia called struvite stones and stones formed from monosodium urate crystals, called uric acid stones, which might be related to obesity and dietary factors. The rarest type of stone is a cvstine stone that tends to run in families.
How Is Kidney Pain Treated
Treatment depends on the cause, the severity of the pain and how sick you are feeling.
You may find the pain eases with simple treatments like paracetamol. Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist.
If you have pain that you are worried may be caused by a kidney problem, please see your doctor. If you are pregnant and you have kidney pain, see your doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you have a pain in the back along with any of the following:
- discoloured urine, painful urination or blood in your urine
- feeling that you need to urinate urgently
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Editorial Sources And Fact
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
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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
Besides being painful, what arekidney stones?
Theyre solid formations of minerals and salts that crystalize in urine in the kidneys when concentrations are high. They can be as tiny as a grain of sand to pebble-size and larger. And they can develop at any age, from infants to the elderly.;
Although some stones remain in the kidneys, others travel through the ureter and into the bladder, explains Howard Abromowitz, MD.
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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Shortness Of Breath After Very Little Effort
Why this happens:
Being short of breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anemia can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.
What patients said:
At the times when I get the shortness of breath, it’s alarming to me. It just fears me. I think maybe I might fall or something so I usually go sit down for awhile.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t catch my breath, like I was drowning or something. And, the bloating, can’t breathe, can’t walk anywhere. It was bad.
What Do Kidney Stone Symptoms Feel Like
You’re probably already aware that passing a kidney stone can be incredibly painful. Perhaps you’ve heard someone compare the pain to childbirth. Or maybe someone mentioned their experience with kidney stones completely recalibrated how they rate pain. Ouch.
But while the most-discussed kidney stone symptom is often the pain where it’s felt and how bad it can get it’s not the only symptom to be aware of.
“Kidney stones are fairly common and often painful, but they’re also treatable and even preventable,” says Dr. Chris Kannady, urologist at Houston Methodist. “If you think you might have a kidney stone, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible since delaying care for a kidney stone can lead to serious complications.”
But, when all you’ve heard about kidney stones is how much they hurt, how can you tell if your pain might be kidney stone pain?
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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.
Kidney Stones And Pain
Kidney stone pain can be excruciating. Individuals who have never had a stone may be suffering from a great deal of discomfort without knowing why. In reality, kidney stones are generally silent until they begin to pass. A stone that grows to 3 millimeters or larger can block the ureter as it moves from the kidney to the bladder. This movement can cause unbearable pain, usually in the lower back, right / left flank, or groin. ;Kidney stone pain can be intermittent or ongoing.
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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.
Where Do Kidney Stones Comefrom
Before we can identify the;stages of passing a kidney stone, we need to know from where the kidney stones come.
Kidney stones occur when certain substances such ascalcium, oxalate, and uric acid concentrate on forming crystals in the kidney.Crystals grow on rocks. Almost 80% of -85% of kidney stones arecalcium. The others are uric acid stones that form in people whose urine has alow pH.
Once the kidneys formed, they can break loose andpass through the urine, preventing the flow of urine. The result is years ofsevere pain, including lateral pain , seldom with blood in the urine, vomiting, and vomiting.When the kidneys enter the bladder through the ureter, they can cause frequenturination, bladder pressure, or groin pain.
If any of these indications occur, contactyour GP, Dr. Eisner. You will probably need to do a urinalysis anda kidney ultrasound, an abdominal x-ray or a CT scan to confirm that kidneystones are the cause of your condition and to determine their size and number.;
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones
Small kidney stones may;go undetected and be passed out painlessly in the urine.;But it’s fairly common for a stone to block part of the urinary system, such as the:
- ureter the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder
- urethra the tube urine passes through on its way out of the body
A blockage can cause severe pain in the abdomen or groin and sometimes causes a urinary tract infection;.
Read more about the symptoms of kidney stones.
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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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.
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.
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