Signs and Symptoms of Passing a Kidney Stone. What You Need to Know

Signs and Symptoms of Passing a Kidney Stone. What You Need to Know

Passing a kidney stone can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidneys and can cause a range of symptoms as they travel through the urinary tract. In this blog post, we will explore the signs and symptoms that indicate you may be passing a kidney stone. Understanding these signs can help you seek appropriate medical attention and find relief from the discomfort.

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1. What are Kidney Stones?

Before delving into the signs of passing a kidney stone, it is important to understand what kidney stones are. Kidney stones are solid masses made up of calcium, oxalate, uric acid, or other substances that accumulate in the kidneys. They can vary in size, ranging from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. When these stones become too large to pass through the urinary tract, they can cause significant pain and discomfort.

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2. Common Symptoms of Kidney Stones

  1. Sharp and Intense Pain. One of the most common symptoms of passing a kidney stone is intense pain. The pain typically starts in the back or side, below the ribs, and radiates towards the lower abdomen and groin area. The severity of the pain can vary from person to person, but it is often described as excruciating and comes in waves.
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  2. Hematuria (Blood in Urine). Another telltale sign of passing a kidney stone is blood in the urine. The presence of blood can give your urine a pink, red, or brownish color. It’s important to note that blood in the urine can also be caused by other conditions, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

  3. Frequent Urination. As a kidney stone makes its way through the urinary tract, it can irritate the bladder and cause an increased urge to urinate. However, despite the urgency, only small amounts of urine may be passed due to blockage or obstruction caused by the stone.

  4. Cloudy or Foul-Smelling Urine. Kidney stones can sometimes lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can cause changes in the appearance and smell of urine. If you notice that your urine appears cloudy or has an unusual odor, it may be a sign that you are passing a kidney stone.

3. Additional Symptoms to Look Out For

While the symptoms mentioned above are commonly associated with passing a kidney stone, there are a few additional signs that may indicate the presence of a stone:

  1. Nausea and Vomiting. Some individuals may experience nausea and vomiting when passing a kidney stone. This can be a result of the severe pain or due to the body’s response to the stone’s movement through the urinary tract.

  2. Fever and Chills. If a kidney stone causes an infection in the urinary tract, it can lead to fever and chills. Infections may occur when bacteria enter the urinary system through the obstruction caused by the stone.

  3. Painful Urination. As a kidney stone passes through the urethra, it can cause pain and discomfort during urination. This pain may feel similar to a burning sensation or a sharp ache.

  4. Difficulty Finding a Comfortable Position. The pain associated with passing a kidney stone can make it challenging to find a comfortable position. Some individuals may feel relief when lying down or applying heat to the affected area.

4. When to Seek Medical Attention

While most kidney stones can be passed naturally, there are instances where medical intervention is necessary. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  1. Persistent pain that lasts longer than 48 hours
  2. Inability to urinate
  3. Blood in urine accompanied by severe pain
  4. High fever and chills
  5. Symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, excessive thirst, and decreased urine output

A healthcare professional will be able to evaluate your condition and determine the best course of action based on the size, location, and composition of the stone.

5. Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you suspect you might be passing a kidney stone, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and may order additional tests such as:

  1. Urinalysis. A urine sample will be analyzed for the presence of blood, infection, or abnormal levels of minerals that contribute to stone formation.
  2. Imaging Tests. X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasounds can help visualize the size and location of the kidney stone.
  3. Blood Tests. Blood tests may be performed to assess kidney function and identify any underlying medical conditions that could contribute to stone formation.

Treatment options for kidney stones depend on various factors including the size, location, and severity of symptoms. Some common treatment approaches include:

  1. Fluid Intake. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out smaller stones from the urinary system.
  2. Pain Medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications may be recommended to manage pain during passage.
  3. Medical Procedures. In cases where stones are too large to pass naturally or causing severe symptoms, medical procedures such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), ureteroscopy, or surgical removal may be necessary.

Conclusion

Passing a kidney stone can be an uncomfortable and painful experience, but recognizing the signs and symptoms can help you seek appropriate medical attention. If you experience intense pain in your back or side, notice blood in your urine, or have frequent urination accompanied by other symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Remember, early intervention can lead to quicker relief and prevent complications associated with kidney stones.

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