Kidney stones - Symptoms and causes (2022)

Overview

Female urinary system

Kidney stones - Symptoms and causes (1)

Female urinary system

Your urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The urinary system removes waste from the body through urine. The kidneys are located toward the back of the upper abdomen. They filter waste and fluid from the blood and produce urine. Urine moves from the kidneys through narrow tubes to the bladder. These tubes are called the ureters. The bladder stores urine until it's time to urinate. Urine leaves the body through another small tube called the urethra.

Male urinary system

Kidney stones - Symptoms and causes (2)

(Video) Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis) Signs & Symptoms | & Why They Occur

Male urinary system

Your urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The urinary system removes waste from the body through urine. The kidneys are located toward the back of the upper abdomen. They filter waste and fluid from the blood and produce urine. Urine moves from the kidneys through narrow tubes to the bladder. These tubes are called the ureters. The bladder stores urine until it's time to urinate. Urine leaves the body through another small tube called the urethra.

Kidney stones (also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

Diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications are among the many causes of kidney stones. Kidney stones can affect any part of your urinary tract — from your kidneys to your bladder. Often, stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.

Passing kidney stones can be quite painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage if they're recognized in a timely fashion. Depending on your situation, you may need nothing more than to take pain medication and drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances — for example, if stones become lodged in the urinary tract, are associated with a urinary infection or cause complications — surgery may be needed.

Your doctor may recommend preventive treatment to reduce your risk of recurrent kidney stones if you're at increased risk of developing them again.

Symptoms

Kidney stones

Kidney stones - Symptoms and causes (3)

Kidney stones

Kidney stones form in your kidneys. As stones move into your ureters — the thin tubes that allow urine to pass from your kidneys to your bladder — signs and symptoms can result. Signs and symptoms of kidney stones can include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and blood in your urine.

(Video) Urinary/Kidney Stones - Overview (signs and symptoms, risk factors, pathophysiology, treatment)

A kidney stone usually will not cause symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or passes into one of the ureters. The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder.

If a kidney stone becomes lodged in the ureters, it may block the flow of urine and cause the kidney to swell and the ureter to spasm, which can be very painful. At that point, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Severe, sharp pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • A persistent need to urinate, urinating more often than usual or urinating in small amounts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present

Pain caused by a kidney stone may change — for instance, shifting to a different location or increasing in intensity — as the stone moves through your urinary tract.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs and symptoms that worry you.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Pain so severe that you can't sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Pain accompanied by fever and chills
  • Blood in your urine
  • Difficulty passing urine

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(Video) Kidney stones causes, symptoms and treatment

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(Video) Symptoms of Kidney Stone - Dr. Nicholas Laryngakis

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Causes

Kidney stones often have no definite, single cause, although several factors may increase your risk.

Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid — than the fluid in your urine can dilute. At the same time, your urine may lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form.

Types of kidney stones

Knowing the type of kidney stone you have helps determine its cause, and may give clues on how to reduce your risk of getting more kidney stones. If possible, try to save your kidney stone if you pass one so that you can bring it to your doctor for analysis.

Types of kidney stones include:

  • Calcium stones. Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a substance made daily by your liver or absorbed from your diet. Certain fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate content.

    Dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery and several metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine.

    Calcium stones may also occur in the form of calcium phosphate. This type of stone is more common in metabolic conditions, such as renal tubular acidosis. It may also be associated with certain medications used to treat migraines or seizures, such as topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi XR, Qudexy XR).

  • Struvite stones. Struvite stones form in response to a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, sometimes with few symptoms or little warning.
  • Uric acid stones. Uric acid stones can form in people who lose too much fluid because of chronic diarrhea or malabsorption, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.
  • Cystine stones. These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder called cystinuria that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of a specific amino acid.

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of developing kidney stones include:

  • Family or personal history. If someone in your family has had kidney stones, you're more likely to develop stones, too. If you've already had one or more kidney stones, you're at increased risk of developing another.
  • Dehydration. Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones. People who live in warm, dry climates and those who sweat a lot may be at higher risk than others.
  • Certain diets. Eating a diet that's high in protein, sodium (salt) and sugar may increase your risk of some types of kidney stones. This is especially true with a high-sodium diet. Too much salt in your diet increases the amount of calcium your kidneys must filter and significantly increases your risk of kidney stones.
  • Obesity. High body mass index (BMI), large waist size and weight gain have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.
  • Digestive diseases and surgery. Gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea can cause changes in the digestive process that affect your absorption of calcium and water, increasing the amounts of stone-forming substances in your urine.
  • Other medical conditions such as renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism and repeated urinary tract infections also can increase your risk of kidney stones.
  • Certain supplements and medications, such as vitamin C, dietary supplements, laxatives (when used excessively), calcium-based antacids, and certain medications used to treat migraines or depression, can increase your risk of kidney stones.
(Video) What causes kidney stones? - Arash Shadman

FAQs

Kidney stones - Symptoms and causes? ›

Kidney stones form in your kidneys. As stones move into your ureters — the thin tubes that allow urine to pass from your kidneys to your bladder — signs and symptoms can result. Signs and symptoms of kidney stones can include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and blood in your urine.

What is the main cause of kidney stones? ›

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. Eating too much fructose correlates with increasing risk of developing a kidney stone.

How do u know if I have kidney stones? ›

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.

What foods causes kidney stones? ›

Avoid stone-forming foods: Beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. If you suffer from stones, your doctor may advise you to avoid these foods or to consume them in smaller amounts.

How can you test for kidney stones at home? ›

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have a kidney stone present in your urinary tract:
  1. Severe pain in the back, side, or below the ribs.
  2. Pain that travels to the lower abdomen or groin area.
  3. Pain when urinating.
  4. Pink, red, brown urine coloring.
  5. Cloudy or bad-smelling urine.
  6. Nausea and vomiting.

What are the first signs of kidney problems? ›

Generally, earlier stages are known as 1 to 3. And as kidney disease progresses, you may notice the following symptoms. Nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, swelling via feet and ankles, dry, itchy skin, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, urinating either too much or too little.

How do doctors test for kidney stones? ›

You will collect a urine sample at a doctor's office or at a lab, and a health care professional will test the sample. Urinalysis can show whether your urine has blood in it and minerals that can form kidney stones. White blood cells and bacteria in the urine mean you may have a urinary tract infection.

What removes kidney stones naturally? ›

Natural Remedies to Pass Kidney Stones
  • Drink plenty of water. Kidney stones need to be flushed out of the body so be sure to drink lots of water to keep them moving along. ...
  • Drink a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. ...
  • Try raw apple cider vinegar. ...
  • Eat diuretic foods.
Jul 16, 2021

What dissolves kidney stones fast? ›

What Dissolves Kidney Stones Fast? Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which helps dissolve kidney stones. In addition to flushing out the kidneys, apple cider vinegar can also decrease any pain caused by the stones. In addition, water and lemon juice can help flush the stones and prevent future kidney stones.

What drinks are good for kidney stones? ›

Water is best. You can also drink ginger ale, lemon-lime sodas, and fruit juices. Drink enough liquids throughout the day to make at least 2 quarts (2 liters) of urine every 24 hours.

What drinks to avoid with kidney stones? ›

Tart drinks like lemonade, limeade, and fruit juices are naturally high in citrate that helps keep kidney stones at bay. But hold back on foods and drinks flavored with sugar or, especially, high-fructose corn syrup. They can lead to stones.

Which fruit is good for kidney stone? ›

Up your citrus intake

Citrus fruit, and their juice, can help reduce or block the formation of stones due to naturally occurring citrate. Good sources of citrus include lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.

What should not eat for kidney stone? ›

To prevent uric acid stones, cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, beer/alcoholic beverages, meat-based gravies, sardines, anchovies and shellfish. Follow a healthy diet plan that has mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

How do I know if my pain is kidney stones? ›

Kidney stone symptoms include:
  1. Sharp pain in the lower abdomen, typically on one side.
  2. A burning sensation or pain while urinating.
  3. Urinating frequently.
  4. Feeling like you're urinating incompletely or in small amounts.
  5. Urine that is brown, red or pink, which indicates the presence of blood.
  6. Smelly or cloudy urine.
May 18, 2021

How does a woman know if she has a kidney stone? ›

While some small kidney stones can pass through the urinary tract and out of your body without being noticed, others have tell-tale signs, most notably: pain. Symptoms are similar regardless of gender, and include pain in your back or sides, radiating pain into the groin, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine and fever.

What are the 8 signs of kidney failure? ›

8 Signs You Could Be Suffering From Kidney Disease
  • Your energy levels have plummeted. ...
  • Your skin is noticeably dry and itchy. ...
  • You have to go to the bathroom more often. ...
  • You've got blood in your urine. ...
  • Your urine is usually frothy. ...
  • Your eyes always look puffy. ...
  • Your extremities are swollen. ...
  • You experience frequent muscle cramps.

Do kidney stones make you tired? ›

chills and shivering. feeling very weak or tired. diarrhoea. cloudy and bad-smelling urine.

How do I know if my back pain is kidney related? ›

Kidney pain vs back pain

Spine-related issues can also cause back pain to sometimes radiate down your legs. In comparison, kidney pain is typically located higher on your back and it often feels deeper. Most of the time, kidney pain symptoms occur under your ribs, to the right or left of your spine.

What happens if kidney stones go untreated? ›

Left untreated, kidney stones can block the ureters or make them narrower. This increases the risk of infection, or urine may build up and put added strain on the kidneys. These problems are rare because most kidney stones are treated before they can cause complications.

How long do kidney stones last? ›

A stone that's smaller than 4 mm (millimeters) may pass within one to two weeks. A stone that's larger than 4 mm could take about two to three weeks to completely pass. Once the stone reaches the bladder, it typically passes within a few days, but may take longer, especially in an older man with a large prostate.

What drinks cause kidney stones? ›

Dark cola beverages, artificial fruit punch, and sweet tea are the top drinks that contribute to kidney stones. This is because these beverages contain higher amounts of fructose or phosphoric acid, which are ultimately known to contribute to kidney stones.

How can I avoid getting kidney stones? ›

How to prevent kidney stones naturally
  1. Stay hydrated. Drinking more water is the best way to prevent kidney stones. ...
  2. Eat more calcium-rich foods. ...
  3. Eat less sodium. ...
  4. Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. ...
  5. Eat less animal protein. ...
  6. Avoid vitamin C supplements. ...
  7. Explore herbal remedies.

Who is most likely to get kidney stones? ›

People are most likely to develop kidney stones between ages 40 and 60, though the stones can appear at any age.

Does stress cause kidney stones? ›

Can stress cause kidney stones? Especially when combined with chronic dehydration, stress can trigger the formation of kidney stones. Stress overall can affect your kidneys. Stress can result in high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which can both affect the health of your heart and the kidneys.

What should you not eat when you have kidney stones? ›

If you've had calcium oxalate stones, you may want to avoid these foods to help reduce the amount of oxalate in your urine:
  • nuts and nut products.
  • peanuts—which are legumes, not nuts, and are high in oxalate.
  • rhubarb.
  • spinach.
  • wheat bran.

What should you not drink with kidney stones? ›

Tart drinks like lemonade, limeade, and fruit juices are naturally high in citrate that helps keep kidney stones at bay. But hold back on foods and drinks flavored with sugar or, especially, high-fructose corn syrup. They can lead to stones.

How long do kidney stones last? ›

A stone that's smaller than 4 mm (millimeters) may pass within one to two weeks. A stone that's larger than 4 mm could take about two to three weeks to completely pass. Once the stone reaches the bladder, it typically passes within a few days, but may take longer, especially in an older man with a large prostate.

What fruits are good for kidney stones? ›

Up your citrus intake

Citrus fruit, and their juice, can help reduce or block the formation of stones due to naturally occurring citrate. Good sources of citrus include lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.

What are the first signs of kidney problems? ›

Generally, earlier stages are known as 1 to 3. And as kidney disease progresses, you may notice the following symptoms. Nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, swelling via feet and ankles, dry, itchy skin, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, urinating either too much or too little.

What is the fastest way to dissolve a kidney stone? ›

What Dissolves Kidney Stones Fast? Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which helps dissolve kidney stones. In addition to flushing out the kidneys, apple cider vinegar can also decrease any pain caused by the stones. In addition, water and lemon juice can help flush the stones and prevent future kidney stones.

Can kidney stones damage your kidneys? ›

Kidney stones are solid crystals formed from the salts in urine. They are sometimes called renal calculi. Kidney stones can block the flow of urine and cause infection, kidney damage or even kidney failure. They can vary in size and location.

How can I check my kidneys at home? ›

One of the best ways to test for CKD and assess kidney damage is a simple urine test which detects the presence of albumin. The smartphone app from Healthy.io enables lay users to conduct a urinalysis test at home and securely share results with their clinicians.

Can dehydration cause kidney stones? ›

Dehydration can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, both of which can lead to kidney damage if not treated quickly. Kidney stones form less easily when you have enough water to prevent stone-forming crystals from sticking together.

How fast do kidney stones grow? ›

2. They don't form overnight. Kidney stones don't just appear out of nowhere. In fact, they can start to form in your kidneys for months – even years before you ever suspect anything or experience symptoms.

Videos

1. Kidney Stones: Signs and Symptoms | Diagnosis | Prevention | Causes (in Hindi)
(MediFee.com)
2. Kidney Stones Symptoms and Treatments
(Beaumont Health)
3. Kidney Stone (पथरी): Cause, Symptoms & Treatment | Urolithiasis | Nephrolithiasis (In Hindi)
(Dr. Puspendra Classes)
4. Kidney Pain? How to treat Kidney Stones? Causes and Symptoms
(Dr SMART team)
5. Symptoms of Kidney Stones - Dr. Anantharaman Ramakrishnan
(Doctors' Circle - World's Largest Health Platform)
6. 6 Signs You Could Have Kidney Stones | Health
(Health Magazine)

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