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Learn More About The Signs And Symptoms Of Kidney Stones

Updated on March 8, 2017

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with Kidney Stones. Generally, these patients are seen in their local emergency room due to the extreme lower left or right abdominal pain looking for treatment aimed at relieving their kidney stone pain. Sometimes these patients are even transported by ambulance due to the debilitating nature of the pain. For the most part, people experiencing symptoms of kidney stones are generally sent home to wait for the stone to pass naturally, but occasionally they may require medical intervention, especially if the stone is too large to pass or if there is a substantial level of infection or a number of other medical issues.

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For many people, the thought of sitting in an ER waiting room, waiting to be seen by a doctor while in pain, is unthinkable, especially with the extreme level of sharp lower back and abdominal pain that kidney stones can cause. Have you wondered how to know if you or a loved one have a Kidney Stone? Are you searching for help relieving kidney stone pain? Do you know all the signs and symptoms you may experience if you have a kidney stone? This article can help you learn what symptoms are common in kidney stones, the possible risks, and what treatment to expect.

Kidney stones can cause from a couple days of pain to a life-long health issue. Kidneys damaged from stones may heal quite quickly if the stones are small or pass easily or they may be damaged forever and possibly need to be replaced via transplant. Read further to learn more about kidney stones so that you will know if you have one and how to deal with it.

How To Know If You Have A Kidney Stone: Symptoms

Kidney stone pain, for many people, begins with a dull pain in the mid to lower back. One way to know if you have a kidney stone is if the pain moves from the lower back. The pain from the lower back will generally begin radiating to the affected flank/side. When the pain begins to move, the stone has entered the ureter that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. This is the site of some of the worst pain associated with the kidney stone.

The reason for the pain in the ureter is that the kidney stone basically looks like a really small sand spur, and it digs into the wall of the ureter as it moves the urine downward to the bladder. This causes scratches and tears in the inner lining of the ureter. Once the stone has damaged the ureter, the walls begin to spasm, causing much worse damage. Once the stone has reached this point, blood can sometimes be seen in the patients urine.

The stone then reaches the bladder, somewhat relieving kidney stone pain. For the male, however, pain will soon begin again when the stone enters the urethra that travels from the bladder down through the penis. This is generally not as painful for the female because her urethra is very short. During this part of the passage, urination can be painful, and spasming of the urethra can occur due to similar damage as in the ureter.

Although fever, nausea, and vomiting can accompany the pain from kidney stone, the pain is predominantly the main symptom. Other symptoms can include chills, burning sensation at urination, or urine that is cloudy or has a strong odor. The most worrisome effect of kidney stones is that, if left unchecked, they can cause infection in the kidney which can result in irreparable damage to the affected kidney, as discussed below. The onset of such infection would generally be the cause for any fever in the patient.

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Know If You Have Kidney Stones: Risks

There are many different risks that kidney stones pose to an individual that reach far beyond the excruciating pain that accompanies them traveling out of the body. The most worrisome issue related to multiple kidney stones is that of kidney damage. If a person has untreated stones that are too large to leave the kidney, or multiple cases of kidney stones, they can do irreparable damage to the kidney itself. At this point, relieving kidney stone pain is only a small goal since this can lead to the loss of kidney function of the particular kidney. Depending on the extent of the damage, if a person only has one kidney or has damage to both kidneys, they possibly could have to go on dialysis and/or be placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

As Kidneys play an important role in regulating blood pressure, people with renal failure often have problems with high blood pressure which often leads to other heart related illnesses.

Another issue that correlates to the loss of kidney function is that of electrolyte imbalance. The function of a persons kidneys helps regulate the level of certain electrolytes in the body, such as sodium and potassium. These substances have a large impact on the heart, brain, and other areas of the body, and imbalances can lead to various health issues such as heart arrhythmias, memory problems and more.

Relieving Kidney Stone Pain: Treatment

The best initial care for a kidney stone is to seek a confirmed diagnosis at an ER or doctor's office. Although you may have very similar symptoms, there are other abdominal emergencies that could be the problem. Depending on your health care plan, you may be able to go to a urologist without a referral. However, if you have never had a confirmed kidney stone, you will probably be sent to an emergency room to have a CT and x-rays to confirm that there are kidney stones, how many, and how big.

They will also most likely check a urine sample for cloudiness, blood, and sign of infection. Care at the ER or doctor's office will probably include giving you pain medication along with a prescription for meds that will help open up your ureters and cause you to urinate more, in the attempt to help you pass the stone or stones.

After the kidney stone has been confirmed, you will either be sent home to pass the stone naturally, or, depending on size and quantity, you might be referred to a urologist. If referred to a urologist, you can expect anywhere from passing the stone naturally to certain non-surgical procedures to break up stones so that they are passable. That care can also include placement of a stint in the affected ureter or urethra or both to help dilate or hold it open to help passage and minimize damage. Stint placement is generally outpatient and, although uncomfortable, not intolerable.

If released to pass the stone without visiting a urologist, you will be encouraged to drink plenty of water to keep everything opened up and give plenty of "flow" to help push the stone out. You may also, as stated above, be given prescriptions such as Flowmax to help dilate or other prescriptions for pain management. While trying to pass the stone you will be asked to urinate through a strainer you will be given in order to catch the stone. The urologist may ask for you to bring it back so it may be sent off to give further insight about needed changes in diet to avoid future stones.

There are many home remedies on the internet that claim to help break down the stone or push it out. This article does not recommend these procedures. Be sure to consult a physician before attempting to use any of them. Your physician may not agree with you using them, but he can definitely tell you if any of them are dangerous or counterproductive.

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    • jdavis88 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joseph Davis 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Although there are some sites that have homeopathic remedies that some say can help dissolve the stone, there are no short term medically proven diets to dissolve stones. Some urologists will recommend diets to help a person to not develop new stones however. Eat a light diet to help avoid nausea and drink plenty of water and cranberry juice which is a natural diuretic and will help with the passing of the stones.

    • profile image

      ravipriya 

      6 years ago

      what type of food i eat when I have a Kidney Stone?

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