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How to Recognize the Signs of Kidney Stones

How to Recognize the Signs of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can be a painful condition for some patients. Learn how more about this condition, including how to recognize the signs of kidney stones and possible courses of treatment.

Patients experience kidney stones when too much uric acid and calcium solidify inside their kidneys. Dehydration causes patients to have higher than normal concentrations of these minerals. Patients are at risk for kidney stones when this occurs. In addition, patients who are diabetic, overweight, or male may have an increased risk of developing kidney stones. While the stones may be very small, some can be as large as a kidney.

Patients typically experience discomfort when their kidney stone leaves the kidney and travels to the ureter. This is the tube that funnels urine to the bladder. In such cases, patients may experience some of the following symptoms of kidney stones.

One of the most obvious signs of a kidney stone is pain located in the side, back, or stomach. The pain patients experience is due to pressure growing in their kidney. The pain may recede for intervals as the stone travels through the ureter.

Once a kidney stone reaches the opening of the bladder, patients will experience burning or pain during urination. Along with this, patients often experience a frequent urge to use the bathroom. It should be noted that both of these are also signs or a urinary tract infection. Although patients may experience a frequent urge to go, there may only be a small flow of urine. During urination, they may see a brown, red, or pink tinge, which is due to blood in the urine. In addition to blood, urine may have a strong odor.

Finally, patients can experience nausea and vomiting with kidney stones, as well as fever and chills. A corresponding fever is a sign that patients likely have an infection from their kidney stone and should seek medical attention.

Patients who suspect they have a kidney stone should see their doctor. Those experiencing uncontrollable pain, a high fever, bloody urine, or trouble urinating should seek immediate medical attention, as those can be signs of an infection.

A doctor will conduct an examination and appropriate tests to properly diagnose kidney stones. A blood test will reveal the levels of uric acid and calcium, while a urine test will reveal the presence of stone-forming substances or absence of stone-preventing ones. Patients may provide stones that they pass for their doctor to analyze. A doctor may also request tests like X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasounds to locate any kidney stones in the ureter.

The good news is that patients with smaller kidney stones usually do not require medical intervention. These stones typically pass on their own; however, patients can help the process by staying hydrated and taking an alpha-blocker that relaxes the ureter muscles. Patients experiencing pain can take over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Advil to relieve their symptoms.

Patients experiencing severe pain or those with larger stones will likely need medical intervention. One treatment option is to utilize sounds waves to break up the stone. Other options include removing the stone via a scope or surgery. Patients with an overactive thyroid may benefit from gland surgery. An overactive thyroid produces too much calcium, which can lead to kidney stones.

Published on June 29, 2018

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