8 Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are hard collections of salt and minerals often made up of calcium or uric acid. They form inside the kidney and can travel to other parts of the urinary tract.

Stones vary in size. Some are as small as the period at the end of this sentence — a fraction of an inch. Others can grow to a few inches across. Some kidney stones can become so large they take up the entire kidney.

READ:   Common symptoms of Urinary system diseases and disorders

A kidney stone forms when too much of certain minerals in your body accumulate in your urine. When you aren’t well hydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated with higher levels of certain minerals. When mineral levels are higher, it’s more likely that a kidney stone will form.

About 1 out of every 11 people in the United States will get a kidney stone. Stones are more common in men, people who are obese, and those who have diabetes

Smaller kidney stones that remain in the kidney often don’t cause any symptoms. You might not notice anything is amiss until the stone moves into your ureter — the tube that urine travels through to get from your kidney to your bladder.

READ:   Glomerulonephritis (Acute)

Kidney stones are typically very painful. Most stones will pass on their own without treatment. However, you may need a procedure to break up or remove stones that don’t pass.

Here are eight signs and symptoms that you may have kidney stones.

1. Pain in the back, belly, or side

Kidney stone pain — also known as renal colic — is one of the most severe types of pain imaginable. Some people who’ve experienced kidney stones compare the pain to childbirth or getting stabbed with a knife.

The pain is intense enough to account for more than 1 million visits to emergency rooms each year.

Usually the pain starts when a stone moves into the narrow ureter. This causes a blockage, which makes pressure build up in the kidney.

READ:   Polycystic Kidney disease

The pressure activates nerve fibers that transmit pain signals to the brain.

Kidney stone pain often starts suddenly. As the stone moves, the pain changes location and intensity.

Pain often comes and goes in waves, which is made worse by the ureters contracting as they try to push the stone out. Each wave may last for a few minutes, disappear, and then come back again.

You’ll feel the pain along your side and back, below your ribs. It may radiate to your belly and groin area as the stone moves down through your urinary tract.

Large stones can be more painful than small ones, but the severity of pain doesn’t necessarily relate to the size of the stone. Even a little stone can be painful as it moves or causes a blockage.

Once the stone reaches the junction between the ureter and bladder, you’ll start to feel pain when you urinate. Your doctor might call this dysuria.

The pain can feel sharp or burning. If you don’t know you have a kidney stone, you might mistake it for a urinary tract infection. Sometimes you can have an infection along with the stone.

4. Blood in the urine

Blood in the urine is a common symptom in people with urinary tract stones. This symptom is also called hematuria.

The blood can be red, pink, or brown. Sometimes the blood cells are too small to see without a microscope (called microscopic hematuria), but your doctor can test for this symptom.

5. Cloudy or smelly urine

Healthy urine is clear and doesn’t have a strong odor. Cloudy or foul-smelling urine could be a sign of an infection in your kidneys or another part of your urinary tract.

One study found that about 8 percent of people with acute kidney stones had a urinary tract infection.

READ:   Renal cell carcinoma or Kidney cancer

Cloudiness is a sign of pus in the urine, or pyuria. The smell can come from the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. An odor may also come from urine that’s more concentrated than normal.

6. Going a small amount at a time

Large kidney stones sometimes get stuck in a ureter. This blockage can slow or stop the flow of urine.

If you have a blockage, you may only urinate a little bit each time you go. Urine flow that stops entirely is a medical emergency.

8. Fever and chills

Fever and chills are signs that you have an infection in your kidney or another part of your urinary tract. This can be a serious complication to a kidney stone. It can also be a sign of other serious problems besides kidney stones. Any fever with pain requires urgent medical attention.

Fevers that occur with an infection are usually high — 100.4˚F (38˚C) or more. Chills or shivering often occur along with the fever.

The bottom line

Kidney stones are hard collections of salt and minerals that form in your kidneys and can travel to other parts of your urinary system.

READ:   Bladder cancer

Stones cause symptoms like pain, trouble urinating, cloudy or smelly urine, nausea and vomiting.

Some stones will pass on their own. Others need treatment with sound waves or surgery to break them up or remove them.

Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of kidney stones. Get medical help right away if you have these symptoms, which could indicate that you have an infection or other serious complication:

  • pain so severe that you can’t get comfortable
  • nausea, vomiting, fever, or chills with the pain
  • blood in your urine
  • trouble urinating
Glomerulonephritis (Acute) ICD-9: 580.9 Description Glomerulonephritis, which is inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidney’s nephrons, causes the rate of blood filtration to be reduced. Retention of water and salts follows, resulting in injury to the glomeruli, which allow RBCs and serum protein to pass into the urine. Both kidneys are affected. Etiology The cause is often unknown. However, it is also known as acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN), following a streptococcal infection of the respiratory tract. This inflammation is a consequence of an infection elsewhere in the body, most frequently following an infection of the upper respiratory tract or the middle ear by streptococcal bacteria. APSGN is less common today owing to the antibiotic therapy used for streptococcal infections. Other bacteria, however, and certain viruses and parasites, such as impetigo, mumps, Epstein-Barr virus, and hepatitis B and C as well as HIV (AIDS), also may induce glomerulonephritis. The disease also...
Neurogenic or overactive bladder ICD-9: 596.54 Description Neurogenic bladder refers to any loss or impairment of bladder function caused by central nervous system injury or by damage to nerves supplying the bladder. Overactive bladder function may be manifested as either incontinence (loss of voluntary control of micturition) or loss of the autonomic reflex, producing the sensation that the bladder is full. This is also referred to as urinary incontinence. Etiology Neurogenic bladder may present in one of the following two ways: (1) specific bladder dysfunction in which the neurological lesions are above sacral nerves S2 through S4 or (2) flaccid bladder dysfunction in which the lesions are below sacral nerves S2 through S4. Physical trauma to the spinal cord is a frequent cause of neurogenic bladder. Neurogenic bladder may arise as a consequence of multiple sclerosis, dementia, and Parkinson disease. Other causes can include nerve damage as a consequence of chronic alcoholism or heavy-metal poisoning. Me...
End-stage renal disease ICD-9: 585.6 Description End-stage renal disease (ESRD), usually the result of chronic renal failure, is the gradual, progressive deterioration of kidney function to the point that the kidneys cannot sustain their necessary dayto-day life activity. As the kidney tissue is progressively destroyed, the kidney loses its ability to excrete the nitrogenous end products of metabolism, such as urea and creatinine, which accumulate in the blood and eventually reach toxic levels. As kidney function diminishes, every organ in the body is affected, and dialysis or kidney transplantation is eventually needed for survival. Etiology Causes of ESRD include diabetes mellitus (leading cause), hypertension, chronic glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, obstruction of the urinary tract, congenital anomalies such as polycystic kidneys, vascular disorders, infections, medications, and toxic agents. Signs and Symptoms The early signs and symptoms are oliguria and azotemia, or the presence of n...
Anatomy of the Urinary System How do the kidneys and urinary system work? The body takes nutrients from food and converts them to energy. After the body has taken the food components that it needs, waste products are left behind in the bowel and in the blood. Illustration of the anatomy of the urinary system, front view The kidney and urinary systems help the body to eliminate liquid waste called urea, and to keep chemicals, such as potassium and sodium, and water in balance. Urea is produced when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys, where it is removed along with water and other wastes in the form of urine. Other important functions of the kidneys include blood pressure regulation and the production of erythropoietin, which controls red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Kidneys also regulate the acid-base balance and conserve fluids. Illustration of the anatomy of the kidney K...
Hydronephrosis ICD-9: 591 Description Hydronephrosis is the distention of the renal pelvis and calyces of a kidney due to pressure from accumulating urine. The pressure impairs, and may eventually interrupt, kidney function. One or both kidneys may be affected. Etiology Hydronephrosis is caused by a urinary tract obstruction. The ureters and renal pelvis dilate proximal to, or behind, the obstruction. This swelling causes the hydronephrosis with resultant destruction of functional tissue. In children, the obstruction is usually the result of some congenital defect in urinary tract structure. In adults, the obstruction is more often acquired, resulting from blockage by neoplasms or uroliths, commonly called kidney stones or renal calculi. Urinary tract obstruction in men may be produced by benign or malignant enlargement of the prostate. Women may experience urinary tract obstruction as a complication of pregnancy. Underlying disorders such as neurogenic bladder also may allow urine to acc...