What are kidney stones?
A kidney stone is the hard collection of salts and minerals often comprised of calcium or uric acid. They form inside the kidney and can spread throughout the urinary tract.
There is a wide range of sizes of stones. Small areas are present with less than an inch between them – like the period at the end of this sentence. Many species grow to be a few inches across. The size of some kidney stones can be so large that they take up the entire kidney.
The formation of a kidney stone is caused by an accumulation of minerals in your urine. When you are dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated due to higher levels of minerals. Higher mineral levels increase the likelihood of kidney stones forming.
About one out of every 11 Americans will develop a kidney stone. The risk of developing stones is higher in men, obese individuals, and diabetics.
Many smaller kidney stones will not cause symptoms when they remain inside the kidney. Unless the stone moves into your ureter – the tube that carries urine from your kidney to your bladder – you might not notice anything amiss.
Typically, kidney stones are very painful. In most cases, stones will pass naturally without treatment. If the stones don’t pass, you may need a procedure to break them up or remove them.
Eight symptoms that may indicate you have kidney stones are listed below.
Pain in the back, abdomen, or side
Acute renal colic, or kidney stone pain, is one of the most painful conditions you can imagine. Kidney stones can be painful for some people. Kidney stones are often compared to childbirth and being stabbed with a knife.
Every year, more than 1 million people visit emergency rooms due to pain.
A stone usually causes pain when it crosses into the narrow part of the ureter. In addition to creating a blockage, this builds up pressure inside the kidney.
When pressure is applied, nerve cells that transmit pain signals to the brain are activated.
Pain from kidney stones often occurs suddenly. The pain changes location and intensity as the stone moves.
The ureters contract as they attempt to push the stone out, making it worse when the pain comes and goes in waves. During each wave, you may experience a short period, then disappear and reappeared.
Under your ribs, you will feel pain along your side and back. As the stone moves down your urinary tract, you may experience pain in your belly and groin area.
Although larger stones can cause more pain than smaller stones, the severity of the pain is not correlated with their size. Even the smallest stone can cause discomfort because it moves around or blocks the passageway.
Pain or burning during urination
Your urination will become painful when you have a stone at this junction between the ureter and bladder. Doctors may call this dysuria.
There is a possibility of sharp or burning pain. When you don’t know you have a kidney stone, you might mistake it for a urinary tract infection. A stone and an infection are sometimes present at the same time.
Urgent need to go
If you need to go to the bathroom more frequently or urgently than usual, the stone has moved to the lower part of your urinary tract. If you have to go to the restroom frequently throughout the day or night, you may need to run to the bathroom constantly.
Symptoms of urinary urgency can also mimic those of a urinary tract infection.
Blood in the urine
A common symptom of people with urinary tract stones is bleeding in the urine. Hematuria is also known as this symptom.
A blood sample can be red, pink, or brown. In some cases (called microscopic hematuria), the blood cells are too small to be seen without a microscope. However, your doctor can examine you to check for this symptom.
Cloudy or smelly urine
Healthy urine is clear and does not smell strong. Infections in your kidneys or elsewhere in your urinary tract could cause cloudy or foul-smelling urine.
The results of one study showed that about 8% of people with kidney stones had a urinary tract infection.
The presence of cloudiness in the urine or pyuria indicates pus in the urine. Bacteria that cause urinary tract infections can cause the smell. An odour may also be caused by urine that is more concentrated than normal.
A small amount at a time
Sometimes kidney stones get stuck in the ureter. A blockage can reduce or stop the flow of urine.
The amount of urine you urinate may be small every time you urinate due to a blockage. If your urine flow entirely stops, you have a medical emergency.
Nausea and vomiting
People with kidney stones often experience nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms are caused by common nerve connections between the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract. An upset stomach can result from kidney stones triggering nerves in the GI tract.
The body may also respond to intense pain by causing nausea and vomiting.
Fever and chills
You may have an infection in your kidneys or another part of your urinary tract if you have a fever and chills. The symptoms of this kidney stone complication can be serious. It can also be a sign of other serious conditions besides kidney stones. If you have a fever and pain, you should seek immediate medical attention.
A fever associated with an infection is usually high – 100.4 F (38 C). Along with the fever, one may experience chills or shivers.
The hard collections of salt and minerals form in your kidneys and can travel to other parts of your urinary system.
Symptoms of stones include pain, difficulty urinating, cloudy or smelly urine, nausea, and vomiting.
Some stones will pass by themselves. Sound waves can break up or remove some tumours, while others need surgical removal.
If you have any symptoms of kidney stones, contact your doctor. When you experience these symptoms, which could signify an infection or another problem, seek medical attention right away: