Kidney stones range in severity from benign annoyance to painful condition—and just about anyone can wind up dealing with them. These pesky little stones aren’t actually rocks, but hard deposits comprised of an overabundance of minerals and salts in urine that form in the kidneys.
The deposits usually start out small but can become larger and stay in the kidneys without causing any outward problems. When the stones begin to travel, they can affect any part of your urinary tract and cause significant pain and be dangerous if they cause urinary obstruction or occur in the setting of infection. If recognized and treated quickly, they won’t cause permanent damage. We’ve put together some important information that will help you learn how to tell if you have kidney stones, how to treat them, and what to do to prevent them in the first place.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Because these stones start off so small, you won’t notice them right away. In fact, you likely won’t experience any symptoms until the deposits travel to the bladder through the ureter, which can be painful.
These symptoms may be a sign that you are suffering from kidney stones:
- Extreme pain in the lower back and sides
- Fever and chills
- Pain in groin area
- Sudden pain coming in waves
- Feeling a need to urinate more often
- Only urinating a small amount at a time
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Burning feeling while urinating
- Pain during urination
- Dark or red urine due to blood
Causes and Risk Factors of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be caused by a variety of circumstances and often lack a single, definite cause. Treatment for stones is determined by the particular makeup of your stones. The most common form of kidney stones is a calcium stone, but there are a few other forms created by various dietary deficiencies and illnesses.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are two types of calcium kidney stones—calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Calcium oxalate is the more common of the two and typically results from dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, or certain metabolic disorders. Calcium phosphate stones are seen more often in those with metabolic conditions.
Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones can be a result of not drinking enough fluids or eating a diet high in animal protein. People who suffer from gout are also at risk for developing these types of stones.
A less common form of kidney stones, struvite stones typically result from chronic infection, such as urinary tract infections. These types of stones often grow quite fast and can be very Large.
Cystine stones, the least common type, form in those who have a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much cystine, an amino acid. These types of stones are rare, and those with the disorder usually start to form them during childhood.
There are several factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing kidney stones:
- A diet high in animal protein, salt, or sugar
- Family history of kidney stones
- Dehydration due to insufficient water intake, hot climate, or frequent perspiration
- Medical conditions or digestive diseases such as hyperparathyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic diarrhea, and renal tubular acidosis
Kidney Stones Treatment
If your doctor suspects you have kidney stones, he or she may diagnose by doing an ultrasound or doing a CT scan. Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will recommend treatment to help pass your stones. For patients with severe symptoms, The Urgency Room can provide IV hydration and pain control. You may be able to pass less severe stones on your own at home—but be sure to save them and bring them in for your doctor to examine. Drinking a lot of water and taking pain relievers or prescribed medication will often help you pass your stones.
You will likely need additional help to pass larger stones. Your doctor may recommend alternative methods such as using sound waves to help break up the stones, surgery, or using a scope. It is important that you follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment to best address your unique health needs.
Diagnose Kidney Stones at The Urgency Room
If you believe you have kidney stones, don’t wait for the pain to become more than annoyance. Instead, seek a diagnosis to help avoid further complications. Head to your nearest Urgency Room to be treated as quickly as possible without the wait of a regular emergency room. Our board-certified emergency room physicians will help diagnose you and recommend the proper treatment so you can get back to feeling like yourself again. We are conveniently open 365 days a year in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, and Woodbury.