- When to See the Doctor
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are small hard objects that form from minerals found in your urine. Normally, your body disposes of these minerals through urination. However, sometimes there are too much of these substances, and too little water to carry them away. When this happens, crystals start to form. These objects attract other substances in the kidneys, causing them to grow.
At some point, the stone passes in the urine. Sometimes they pass without much pain, but other times, they cause a lot of pain because they get stuck in the tube between the kidneys and bladder. Kidney stones usually pass in a few days to a few weeks depending on their size.
About 500,000 people in the United States seek medical attention for kidney stones each year. Men are about twice as likely as women to get a kidney stone.
Types of kidney stones
Four minerals may form kidney stones. Doctors treat each type of kidney stone in the same way. The types of kidney stones are:
- Calcium oxalate
- Uric acid
Causes of kidney stones
Higher levels of the previously mentioned minerals in the urine cause kidney stones. Some lifestyle factors can affect the levels of these substances in your urine. Eating less of these foods can help reduce your chances of kidney stones:
- Dairy products
- Wheat bran
Doctors also recommend making sure that you drink 48 to 64 ounces of water per day to reduce the risk of kidney stones.
When to see the doctor for kidney stones
Some kidney stones pass on their own without medical intervention. However, you should see a doctor if your pain is accompanied by:
Additionally, if you have only one kidney, you should seek medical intervention for your kidney stone. Also, if you’ve been trying to pass your stone for close to six weeks, seek medical attention.
Diagnosing kidney stones
People who have asymptomatic kidney stones may get a surprise diagnosis if they have an abdominal x-ray for another reason.
Treatments for kidney stones
The treatment of kidney stones depends on your particular situation.
Doctors may prescribe pain medication and tell you to drink plenty of water if they think you can pass the stone on your own. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for the stone to pass.
When you do pass it, they may ask you to collect it so they can test it to find out what type of stone it is.
If the pain is causing you to vomit, you may become dehydrated and require intravenous hydration.
If the stone is blocking your ureter or causing you extreme pain, there are other treatment options:
- Shock wave lithotripsy: Doctors use sound waves to break up large kidney stones into smaller pieces.
- Cystoscopy: Doctors use a device to see inside the urinary system to find the kidney stone. They can then remove it.
- Ureteroscopy: Similar to cystoscopy, except it is a more long and thin instrument.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: During this procedure, doctors make a small incision in your back to access your kidney. They then remove the stone straight from the kidney.
Latest Digestion News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms and Causes of Kidney Stones."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Treatment for Kidney Stones."
National Kidney Foundation: "Kidney Stones."
Urology Care Foundation: "Kidney Stones."
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: "Kidney Stones Overview."
Top How Long Does it Take to Pass a Kidney Stone Related Articles
What Causes Abdominal Pain?Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Abdominal Pain PicturesAbdominal pain is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and other conditions. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Auryxia (ferric citrate)Auryxia (ferric citrate) is a phosphate binder used for the control of serum phosphorus levels in patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis. Common side effects of Auryxia include diarrhea, nausea, constipation, vomiting, cough, and dark stools (related to the iron content).
Children's Abdominal PainAbdominal pain in children can be more than just a tummy ache. What are the common causes of abdominal pain in children? Learn about pediatric abdominal pain symptoms and treatments for stomach pain in children.
How Can I Improve My Kidney Health? Nine TipsKidneys are vital organs involved in performing several important functions in the body. Almost a third of the adults in the United States are at risk of developing kidney diseases. People who are on long-term medications or suffering from conditions such as diabetes and hypertension have a higher risk of kidney diseases.
How Do I Get Rid of a Cyst on My Kidney?Learn what medical treatments can help get rid of your kidney cysts and speed up your recovery.
How Do I Know if My Back Pain Is Kidney Related?The pain of kidney infection may be felt on the sides (flanks) and the back. Unlike the classical back pain due to muscle or bone involvement, which typically affects the lower back, kidney pain is felt higher up and at a greater depth.
How Is a CT Urogram Performed?A CT (computed tomography) urogram is a non-invasive radiological examination of the urinary system. The doctor injects a mildly radioactive tracer compound into your vein, which then allows the radiologist to view the structure and function of the kidneys and bladder using the CT scanner.
Kidney Pain: Symptoms, Treatment, and CausesKidney pain has a variety of causes and symptoms. Infection, injury, trauma, bleeding disorders, kidney stones, and less common conditions may lead to kidney pain. Symptoms associated with kidney pain may include fever, vomiting, nausea, flank pain, and painful urination. Treatment of kidney pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Kidney Pain vs. Back PainThe signs and symptoms of kidney pain and back pain depend upon the underlying cause. Doctors may use blood tests, X-rays, CT, and/or MRI to diagnose kidney pain and back pain. Treatment may include rest, ice, stretching, muscle strengthening, and pain-relieving medications.
Kidney Stone SlideshowWhat causes kidney stones? Learn to recognize the symptoms and signs of kidney stone pain. Explore kidney stone treatment and how to prevent kidney stones.
The First Signs of Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fever and chills. Kidney stones are diagnosed via CT scans and specialized X-rays. Treatment of kidney stones involves drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications to medical intervention including prescription medications, lithotripsy, and sometimes even surgery.
What Are the Signs That Something Is Wrong With My Kidneys?Most of the signs of kidney diseases are unnoticed, ignored, or appear very late in the disease. Over 37 million American adults have kidney diseases, and most are not aware of it.
Ways to Keep Your Kidneys HealthyYou might know that more than a drink or two a day is bad for your health. But in some cases, any alcohol at all may not be a great idea.
What Is a Kidney Ureter Bladder X-Ray Study?A kidney, ureter, and bladder (KUB) X-ray is a diagnostic test that is used for detecting kidney stones and diagnosing multiple disorders of the urinary tract. This diagnostic examination is usually done by injecting contrast media in your veins. The test is usually done on an outpatient basis and you can resume your daily activities as soon as you have finished the scans.