Signs You May Have Kidney Stones
If you’ve been experiencing lower back discomfort, cloudy urine, or a persistent fever, you may be suffering from a kidney stone. Fortunately, getting the right kidney stone treatment can help you get back on track. This guide from MD Now Urgent Care explores what causes kidney stones, the kidney stone symptoms to watch for, and what you can do if you suspect this condition.
What Is a Kidney Stone?
A kidney stone is a hard deposit made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys. They can affect any area of the urinary tract, including the bladder. When urine becomes concentrated, minerals crystallize and stick together, forming “stones.”
What Causes Kidney Stones?
When determining what causes kidney stones, it’s important to note that there usually is no definitive, single cause. However, there are certain risk factors that could contribute to kidney stone outbreaks. These include family history, eating a high-protein diet, obesity, and previously diagnosed digestive diseases. Those who are chronically dehydrated are also more likely to develop kidney stones.
What Are the Signs of Kidney Stones?
While some kidney stones are as small as a grain of sand, others are the size of small pebbles. Generally, the larger the stone, the more kidney stone symptoms a person will have. Contact a medical professional if you’re experiencing any of the following signs of kidney stones:
- Severe pain on either side of the lower back
- General pain or stomach discomfort that doesn’t go away
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent fever and chills (if infection is present)
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Needing to urinate more often than usual
Most of the time, a kidney stone will not cause symptoms until it has moved within the kidney or passes into the ureter. Once you are passing a kidney stone, the pain may come in waves or be persistent.
When Should I See a Provider for a Kidney Stone?
Schedule an appointment with your provider or visit an MD Now Urgent Care clinic if any of your kidney stone symptoms worry you. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Pain so severe that you can’t sit down
- Frequent nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty urinating
- Excessive blood in the urine
- Constant fever and chills
Kidney Stone Treatment
The size and cause of the stone will determine what treatment is necessary. Here’s what to expect when receiving kidney stone treatment.
Small Stones with Minimal Symptoms
Most small stones that cause minimal symptoms do not need invasive treatment. Your provider may recommend pain relievers to ease discomfort while passing a kidney stone. Alpha blockers may also be given if you are having difficulty passing a stone naturally. These medications relax the muscles inside the ureter, which can help the stone pass.
Drinking 2–3 quarts of water each day also may help to flush the stone out of the urinary tract. You should be drinking enough fluid to produce clear or very light yellow urine.
Large Stones with Severe Symptoms
When a kidney stone cannot be treated with conservative measures, they may require more extensive treatment. Some of the procedures used to treat more serious kidney stones include:
- Sound wave therapy: Certain kidney stones can be treated using extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL. During this non-invasive procedure, you’ll lie on a water-filled cushion as the physician uses X-rays and ultrasound to locate the stone. Then, sound waves are used to break the stone into smaller, passable pieces.
- Surgery: If a kidney stone is very large, surgery may be required to remove it from the urinary tract. Small telescopic instruments are inserted through a small incision in the back to remove the stone. General anesthesia is used during the procedure, which typically involves a 1–2 day hospital stay.
- Removing stones with a scope: Small stones can be removed from the ureter using a thin, lighted tube known as a ureteroscope. The tube contains a small camera, which allows the provider to locate the kidney stone. Once the stone is found, the provider will use tools to break down the stone or simply remove it.
While passing a kidney stone can be uncomfortable, pain can often be managed with the help of a provider or at your nearest MD Now center. If you’ve noticed the signs of kidney stones, seek medical attention quickly—especially if your symptoms are severe. Getting the care you need will ensure a faster and more comfortable recovery.