How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and possibly order some tests. These tests include:
- Imaging tests: An X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound will help your healthcare provider see the size, shape, location and number of your kidney stones. These tests help your provider decide what treatment you need.
- Blood test: A blood test will reveal how well your kidneys are functioning, check for infection and look for biochemical problems that may lead to kidney stones.
- Urine test: This test also looks for signs of infection and examines the levels of the substances that form kidney stones.
Youve Probably Heard That Passing A Kidney Stone Can Be Very Painful But You Might Not Know Exactly What They Are Or How To Avoid One In The First Place
Kidney stones and passing a kidney stone, in particular are notorious for being painful. Theyre also surprisingly common. In fact, 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States will have a kidney stone at least once in their lifetime.
While kidney stone pain is unmistakable, its also possible to have a kidney stone and not even know it. If the stone is small enough to pass through your urinary tract, it may cause little to no pain at all but if its large and gets stuck, you may have severe pain and bleeding.
Kidney stones that cause symptoms or cannot pass on their own need to be treated by a medical professional.
What are kidney stones?
The kidneys two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage on each side of the spine filter waste and extra water from the bloodstream to create urine. From the kidneys, urine then moves through two thin tubes, called ureters, into the bladder.
In addition to filtering waste, the kidneys also regulate water, salt and mineral levels in your blood. Renal calculi, the medical term for kidney stones, form when there is a high level of these minerals in the urine.
Are there different types of kidney stones?
Kidney stones can range in size and shape, with some as small as a grain of sand, others the size of a pebble and less commonly, some growing as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones can also be made of different substances, and they are divided into four common types.
The types of kidney stones are:
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.
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What Are The Most Common Types Of Kidney Stones
The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone. This type happens when calcium and oxalate combine in your urine. It can happen when you have high quantities of oxalate, low amounts of calcium and arent drinking enough fluids.
Stones caused by uric acid are also fairly common. These come from a natural substance called purine, which is a byproduct of animal proteins .
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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To Avoid Spasm Of The Ureter
Urologists place stents inside a scratched or irritated ureter at the time of performing ureteroscopy procedure, which involves the removal of stone i.e. a basket grab process. In this case, doctors place the stents for one week to make sure about avoiding the problem of spasm in the ureter and end it after the trauma ends associated with the complete procedure.
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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Ginger For Kidney Stone Stuck In Urethra
Ginger has so many health benefits, it should be one of the many natural treatments in the âFarmacy in Your Fridge.â One of the benefits is helping to dissolve kidney stones.
To consider ginger, you first should consider the many benefits that this super food provides.
Among its many benefits:
- an effective treatment for asthma
How To Pass Kidney Stones
Stones cause trouble when they obstruct or block the ureter, the tube which drains urine from the kidney to the bladder. Pain can come and go, depending on the degree of obstruction. If the stone is sitting in the ureter without causing blockage, there may be little or no pain. However, if the stone turns even slightly, it may cause partial or complete blockage, which can cause gradual or sudden onset of severe pain.
The last segment of the ureter runs through the wall of the bladder. Stones frequently become stuck in this part of the ureter. If so, they can cause urinary symptoms, including frequency , urgency , and postvoid fullness . These symptoms mimic the symptoms of urinary tract infection. Patients may think they have a bladder infection, but most often these voiding symptoms are due to the stone. When stones are in the lower part of the ureter, they may also cause pain that is referred to the testicle or the tip of the penis in men or into the vaginal and urethral area in women.
When trying to pass a stone, patients should proceed as follows:
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One Seriously Strange Way To Pass A Kidney Stone
Scientific research, folks in white lab coats, gleaming laboratories, occasional Eureka moments interspersed with hours of work still sounds interesting if not glamorous. But sometimes, science requires more dedication, more sacrifice. Two physicians made the effort studying the effect of Thunder Mountain, a Disney World roller coaster, on kidney stones small crystals that form in your kidneys.
The authors built a 3-D model of a kidney and ureter, the anatomic tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. The model faithfully recreated the kidneys collection system, the pathway a kidney stone takes as it follows urine out of the body. They wanted to know whether these crystals or stones would move because of outside forces, like those you might experience on a roller coaster. Three different size kidney stones were placed in three different locations within the kidney then, securing the model in a backpack the authors rode Thunder Mountain twenty times. Thunder Mountain is a roller coaster ride of two and half minutes at about 35 miles per hour with all the curves and dips you would associate with such a ride.
Long-term treatment includes increasing fluid intake to more than a liter daily and avoiding calcium supplement. Interestingly enough, dietary calcium, the calcium contained in our food has not been shown to increase risk it actually lowers risk. So much for supplements.
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.
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Get Care From An Expert
Kidney stonesare formed when there are more of certain chemicals in the urine than fluid to dilute forming a crystal. That crystal tries tomake its way out of your system through the urinary tract. Sadly, the urethrais smaller than the stone, so its a painful process. Symptoms of kidney stones can include intense pain inthe lower abdomen or back, blood in your urine, or a blockage that stops youfrom being able to urinate. If the pain you are feeling resemblesone of the stories above, get to your healthcare provider fast. They can helpwith some of the pain and put a treatment plan together.
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Who Is At Risk For Kidney Stones
Anyone may develop a kidney stone, but people with certain diseases and conditions or those who are taking certain medications are more susceptible to their development. Urinary tract stones are more common in men than in women. Most urinary stones develop in people 20 to 49 years of age, and those who are prone to multiple attacks of kidney stones usually develop their first stones during the second or third decade of life. People who have already had more than one kidney stone are prone to developing further stones.
In residents of industrialized countries, kidney stones are more common than stones in the bladder. The opposite is true for residents of developing areas of the world, where bladder stones are the most common. This difference is believed to be related to dietary factors. People who live in the southern or southwestern regions of the U.S. have a higher rate of kidney stone formation, possibly due to inadequate water intake leading to dehydration than those living in other areas. Over the last few decades, the percentage of people with kidney stones in the U.S. has been increasing, most likely related to the obesity epidemic.
A family history of kidney stones is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in Asians and Caucasians than in Native Americans, Africans, or African Americans.
Uric acid kidney stones are more common in people with chronically elevated uric acid levels in their blood .
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How Will I Know If I Have A Kidney Stone
To find out the size and type of kidney stone you have, your doctor may do tests, including:
- Blood tests to show if there is too much calcium or uric acid in your blood
- Urine tests to show the type of wastes that are in your urine. For this test, your doctor may ask you to collect your urine over two days.
- Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan or X-ray, to show kidney stones in your urinary tract
If you get kidney stones often, your doctor may ask you to urinate through a strainer to catch stones that you pass. Your doctor will then find out what they are made of to decide what is causing your kidney stones and how to prevent them.
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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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.
Can A Kidney Stone Pass On Its Own
Millions of men and women have experienced the uncomfortable symptoms of a kidney stone at one point or another. In fact, some patients struggle with the recurrent formation of kidney stones throughout their lifetime. For these individuals, everyday life can understandably be frustrating. Fortunately, many stones are able to pass on their own. In some cases, however, kidney stones may require medical or surgical intervention. The expert team at Kasraeian Urology in Jacksonville, FL, under the direction of internationally recognized board-certified urologists Dr. Ali Kasraeian and Dr. Ahmad Kasraeian, is committed to helping patients get rapid, reliable, and long-lasting relief from the pain of kidney stones with the most advanced techniques and technologies available. Learn more about passing kidney stones here, including how likely it is that your stone may pass on its own.
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Diagnosis Of Kidney Stones
Many kidney stones are discovered by chance during examinations for other conditions. Urine and blood tests can help with finding out the cause of the stone. Further tests may include:
- CT scans
- x-rays, including an intravenous pyelogram , where dye is injected into the bloodstream before the x-rays are taken.
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, itâs important to reach out to your doctor since sporadic pain is common with this condition.
âWhile 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,â adds Dr. Kannady.
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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.
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
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