Kidney Stones

Each year, more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. It is thought that one in ten people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives.The number of people in the United States with kidney stones has been increasing over the past 30 years.

The peak age for stones is between 20 years and 50 years. White Americans are more prone to develop kidney stones than African Americans, and men are much more likely to develop stones than women. Other diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, chronic diarrhea, or kidney cysts might increase the risk of stones. Diabetes increases the risk of developing kidney stones, especially in younger women. Only about 25% of kidney stones occur in people with a family history of stones. After bariatric (weight loss) surgery, in which the digestive tract is altered, kidney stones are more common.

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form.Possible causes include drinking too little water, exercise (too much or too little), obesity, weight loss surgery, or eating food with too much salt or sugar. Infections and family history might be important in some people.

What are the symptoms of a stone?

  • severe pain on either side of your lower back
  • vague pain or stomach ache that doesn’t go away
  • blood in the urine
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever and chills
  • urine that smells bad or looks cloudy

The kidney stone starts to hurt when it causes irritation or blockage and in some cases, treatment may be needed.

The symptoms could be one or more of the following:

  • severe pain on either side of your lower back
  • more vague pain or stomach ache that doesn’t go away
  • blood in the urine
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever and chills
  • urine that smells bad or looks cloudy

 

The kidney stone starts to hurt when it causes irritation or blockage. This builds rapidly to extreme pain. In most cases, kidney stones pass without causing damage-but usually not without causing a lot of pain. Pain relievers may be the only treatment needed for small stones. Other treatment may be needed, especially for those stones that cause lasting symptoms or other complications. In severe cases, however, surgery may be required.

What should I do if I have these symptoms and think I have a stone?

See a doctor as soon as possible.