Kidney stones form when urine is concentrated, and the minerals crystallize and stick together. Passing the stones can be extremely painful, and the pain is worse the larger they are.
Normally, drinking a lot of water can help flush out the stones before they get to be too large to pass through the ureter. If you have abdominal pain and you’re wondering whether it may be a kidney stone, let’s talk about what the symptoms are and what can be done about them:
Symptoms of a Kidney Stone
If you have a kidney stone, you will experience one or more of the following:
- The increased need to urinate
- Severe pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin from the sides and back, below the ribs
- Pain in the abdomen that comes in waves and changes in intensity
- Painful urination
- Discolored urine that is cloudy, pink, reddish, or brown, and has a foul odor
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Only urinating in small amounts
- Pain that feels like it’s moving around
See a doctor right away if you are experiencing any of these symptoms listed above. Do not attempt to self-treat it, because the stone could become larger and more difficult to pass through your system.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
There are actually several different types of kidney stones that form due to a number of different reasons, including the following:
- Calcium stones form when you have too much calcium, phosphate, vitamin D, and other substances in your system, and too little liquid to flush them out.
- Struvite stones form in response to a urinary tract infection or other types of infection.
- Cystine stones are caused by a disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of a certain type of amino acid (cystinuria).
- Uric acid stones form if you don’t drink enough fluids or you eat a diet that is very high in protein.
To prevent these stones from recurring, drink lots of water to ensure a high-enough urine output to flush any potential small stones. Certain foods may be contributing to the formation of stones, such as salts, animal proteins, and oxalate-rich foods like chocolate, soy, nuts, tea, and certain vegetables.
If you have had a kidney stone, stay away from calcium supplements. Calcium is OK in your food, but you do not need it in concentrated supplemental form.
How Are Kidney Stones Treated?
Kidney stones that cause problems may require medical intervention. Depending on the size and location of the stones, the doctor may recommend extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This procedure uses sound waves that are targeted at the stones to break them up into smaller pieces, so they can be passed in less than an hour.
If the stone is small but is stuck either in the ureter or the kidney, the doctor may go in through the urethra and bladder. Once the stone is located, the doctor will use a thin lighted ureteroscope with a camera and special tools to either break it apart or to extract it.
Urologists in Massachusetts
If you think you might have a kidney stone and are in the Milford area, contact us right away at Urology Specialists of Milford.