Symptoms of a kidney stone When to see a doctor?

Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, are solid masses composed of minerals and salts that develop within the kidneys.

Various factors such as diet, obesity, specific medical conditions, as well as certain supplements and medications, can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. These stones have the potential to impact any area of the urinary tract, ranging from the kidneys to the bladder.

Typically, stones are created when urine becomes highly concentrated, leading to the crystallization and aggregation of minerals.

Symptoms of a kidney stone When to see a doctor?


Passing kidney stones can be an extremely uncomfortable experience, however, if they are identified promptly, they typically do not result in any lasting harm.

The appropriate course of action may vary depending on your specific circumstances. In some cases, simply taking pain medication and staying well-hydrated may be sufficient to pass the kidney stone.

However, there are situations where surgery may be necessary, such as when the stones become stuck in the urinary tract, are accompanied by a urinary infection, or lead to complications.

If you are at a higher risk of developing recurrent kidney stones, your doctor may suggest preventive treatment to minimize the likelihood of future occurrences.

Symptoms of a kidney stone

Symptoms of a kidney stone typically do not manifest until it starts shifting within the kidney or enters one of the ureters. The ureters serve as the connecting tubes between the kidneys and bladder. When a kidney stone gets stuck in the ureters, it can obstruct the urine flow, leading to kidney swelling and ureter spasms.

This can result in intense pain. At this stage, you may encounter the following symptoms:

  • Intense, acute discomfort experienced on the side and back, beneath the ribcage.
  • Aching sensation that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin area.
  • Waves of pain that vary in intensity and come and go intermittently.
  • Discomfort or a burning feeling during urination.

Additional indications and manifestations could consist of:

  • Pink, red, or brown urine.
  • Cloudy or unpleasant-smelling urine.
  • A continuous urge to urinate, urinating more frequently than normal, or urinating in small quantities.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever and chills in case of an infection.

The discomfort resulting from a kidney stone can vary, such as relocating to another area or intensifying, as the stone progresses through the urinary tract.

When to see a doctor

It is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any concerning signs or symptoms.

Kidney stones can develop without a specific

Kidney stones can develop without a specific, singular cause, although there are multiple factors that can heighten your risk.

The formation of kidney stones occurs when the concentration of crystal-forming substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, exceeds the dilution capacity of the urine.

Simultaneously, the urine may lack substances that inhibit the aggregation of crystals, thereby creating an optimal environment for the formation of kidney stones.

Different types of kidney stones

Identifying the specific type of kidney stone you are dealing with is crucial in understanding its underlying cause, and can provide valuable insights on how to prevent future occurrences.

It is recommended to preserve any passed kidney stones for analysis by your healthcare provider.

Various types of kidney stones may include:

  • Kidney stones are commonly calcium stones: typically composed of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is produced by the liver daily or obtained from the diet. Some fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate contain high levels of oxalate. Various factors like diet, high vitamin D intake, intestinal bypass surgery, and certain metabolic disorders can raise calcium or oxalate levels in urine. Calcium stones can also manifest as calcium phosphate, more prevalent in metabolic conditions like renal tubular acidosis. Additionally, they may be linked to specific medications used for migraines or seizures, such as topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi XR, Quadax XR).
  • Struvite stones are formed as a result of a urinary tract infection: These stones have the potential to grow rapidly and reach a considerable size, often without causing noticeable symptoms or providing sufficient warning.
  • Uric acid stones: may develop in individuals experiencing excessive fluid loss due to chronic diarrhea or malabsorption, those following a high-protein diet, and those diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Additionally, specific genetic factors could elevate the likelihood of developing uric acid stones.
  • Cystine stones: are developed in individuals who have a genetic condition known as cystinuria, which leads to excessive excretion of a particular amino acid by the kidneys.

Risk factors of kidney stones

Factors that increase your risk of developing kidney stones include:

  • Having a family history of kidney stones can increase your likelihood of developing them as well. Additionally, if you have already experienced kidney stones in the past, your risk of having another one is higher.
  • Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration, which in turn can elevate the chances of developing kidney stones. Individuals residing in hot and arid regions, as well as those who perspire excessively, may face a greater susceptibility to this condition compared to others.
  • Specific dietary choices. Consuming a diet rich in protein, sodium, and sugar can elevate the likelihood of developing certain types of kidney stones. This is particularly evident in the case of a high-sodium diet. Excessive salt intake can lead to higher levels of calcium that need to be filtered by the kidneys, thereby substantially raising the risk of kidney stone formation.
  • Obesity is associated with a higher risk of kidney stones due to factors such as high body mass index (BMI), large waist size, and weight gain.
  • Digestive disorders and surgical procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or persistent diarrhea can lead to alterations in the digestive system, impacting the absorption of calcium and water. This can result in higher levels of substances that form stones in the urine.
  • Additional medical conditions like renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, and recurrent urinary tract infections can also heighten the likelihood of developing kidney stones.
  • Certain substances and drugs, like vitamin C, dietary supplements, excessive use of laxatives, calcium-based antacids, and specific medications for migraines or depression, have the potential to elevate the likelihood of developing kidney stones.
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