Kidney Stones - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms and signs of your kidney stone?

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What are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

A kidney stone does not usually cause symptoms when it remains in the kidney. There, they can sometimes become infected leading to serious kidney infection called pyelonephritis. When the kidney stone passes from the urine collecting system within the kidney into the ureter, it can act like a dam, preventing easy flow of urine from the kidney into the bladder. This causes urine to back up, increasing pressure and swelling within the kidney.

Pain from a kidney stone can be excruciating, particularly as the stone is passing through the ureter. Kidney stone pain of this type is referred to as renal colic and its intensity is often described as akin to the pain of childbirth. The pain often begins in the back or flank of the side of the low back. It may radiate to the front of the abdomen and, in males, may cause testicular or scrotal pain. The pain is often intermittent in waves causing the affected individual to writhe or move constantly to find a comfortable position. There can be associated nausea, vomiting, and sweating.

The intense pain can be continuous or it can wax and wane as the stone passes toward the bladder. Often, in between the intense pain phase, there remains a dull ache in the back or flank. Once the stone passes into the bladder, the obstruction is relieved, urine can flow freely and the pain resolves. The dull flank ache can remain for a few hours or days after the stone has passed.

Since the urethra is much wider than the ureter, passing the stone while urinating is usually not an issue and most patients cannot tell when they have eliminated the stone from their bladder.

The quantity and severity of pain is not related to the size of the stone but rather the amount of obstruction and kidney swelling present.

Sometimes, there can be blood visible in the urine as the kidney stone passes and irritates the lining of the urinary tract. Most often, the urine is clear to the naked eye and red blood cells are only visible in the urine when it is analyzed under the microscope.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: ashley, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 11

I have had multiple 4-5 mm stones in both kidneys As usual, they told me the stones were not big enough for lithotripsy and asked me to drink lots of water. After a few days I had an ultrasound, and the stones in one kidney were gone. But now for a few months, I have been having dull aches in my lower back on the side where I have stones. It increases in standing and decreases if I do some movement.

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Comment from: Ouch, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 11

I'm (hopefully) near the end of my kidney stone episode as I type this. For two days, I had some blood in my urine. I could feel about where the stone was. When the first stone was stuck in the front half of my torso, a second stone entered 'the tube'. Probable cause was taking out carbs and eating protein to lose weight (Atkins'). If you're on Atkins', drink a lot!

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