Kidney Stones

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies

Kidney Stones Treatment Remedies


The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

More about Kidney Stones

Scientists say that people with kidney stones are at a significantly higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

A stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract. Kidney stones vary in size. A small stone may pass on its own, causing little or no pain. A larger stone may get stuck along the urinary tract. A stone that gets stuck can block the flow of urine, causing severe pain or bleeding.

Calcium Stones. The most common types of stones contain calcium. Calcium is a normal part of a healthy diet. Calcium that is not used by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys flush out the extra calcium with the rest of the urine.

People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in their kidneys. The calcium that stays behind joins with other waste products to form a stone. People can have calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones. Calcium oxalate stones are more common.

A uric acid stone may form when the urine contains too much acid. People who eat a lot of meat, fish, and shellfish may get uric acid stones.

A struvite stone may form after you have a kidney infection.

Cystine stones result from a genetic disorder, meaning a problem passed from parent to child. The disorder causes cystine to leak through the kidneys and into the urine.

Kidney stones vary in size and shape. Stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl. Some stones are even as big as golf balls. Stones may be smooth or jagged and are usually yellow or brown.

Drinking enough fluids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. You should drink 2 to 3 liters of fluid a day. If you had cystine stones, you may need to drink even more. Though water is best, other fluids may also help prevent kidney stones, such as citrus drinks.

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in a kidney when there are high levels of certain substances in the urine. These substances are normally found in the urine and do not cause problems at lower levels.

Kidney stones are caused by high levels of calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus in the urine.

You may have a kidney stone if you: have pain while urinating, see blood in your urine, feel a sharp pain in your back or lower abdomen.

If you have a small stone that passes on its own easily, you may not have symptoms at all.

To diagnose kidney stones, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your medical history. The doctor may perform urine, blood, and imaging tests to complete the diagnosis.

The treatment for kidney stones usually depends on their size and what they are made of. You may need pain medicine. You should also drink lots of fluids. If you have a large kidney stone or your urinary tract is blocked, the urologist can remove the stone or break it into small pieces with shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, or percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

To prevent kidney stones, you need to know what caused your kidney stone.

Once you know what type of kidney stone you had, you can make changes in your eating, diet, and nutrition and take medicines to prevent future kidney stones.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Most symptoms of Kidney stones will manifest when the stone formations pass into the patient’s ureter (urinary tract) or form around the kidney.

Sudden onset of excruciating, cramping pain in their low back and/or side, groin, or abdomen.

Changes in body position do not relieve this pain. The abdominal, groin, and/or back pain typically waxes and wanes in severity, characteristic of colicky pain (the pain is sometimes referred to as renal colic).

If infection is present in the urinary tract along with the stones, there may be fever and chills.

Sometimes, symptoms such as difficulty urinating, urinary urgency, penile pain, or testicular pain may occur due to kidney stones.

The ureter forms the tube that connects one kidney and his bladder.

Some patients may not report any symptom; however a majority of them will complain of cramping pains in the lower back.

Nausea and vomiting (sickly feeling) is also common for patients diagnosed with Kidney stones.

A feeling of restlessness and inability for patients to lie still is also a common symptom for those diagnosed with Kidney stones.

In some cases, patients may report hematuria, a condition where the patient’s urine is imbued with blood samples. This can as well occur when the kidney stones are within the kidney or while moving through the ureter due to stone scratching.

Patients will often complain of painful urination especially in the case of a urinary tract infection, or when the kidney stones are planted in the patient’s urethra.

The frequency with which patients of Kidney stones urinate increases way beyond the normal frequency.

Kidney stones may also block the patient’s ureter. When this occurs, a kidney infection is inevitable. This is attributed to accumulation of bacteria in the urinary tract due to inability of waste products t pass. In such a case, patients will report fever (high temperatures of over 100° F), shivering, chills, fatigue, and diarrhea.

Other common symptoms for kidney stones include colored urine (pink, red, or brown), fou-smelling urine, or cloudy urine.

Patients diagnosed with Kidney stones have also reported shifting of pain locations within their body as well as variation in pain intensity. This is as a result of the movement of the kidney stones as they travel down the patient’s urinary tract.

Patients are reminded to seek immediate medical attention should they experience any difficulties in passing urine, blood in urine, excruciating pain in the lower back, fever, or chills.

Large kidney stones within the patient’s ureter will always cause intense pain; however, smaller kidney stones within the kidney are asymptomatic. Small kidney stones will easily pass in the urine unnoticed, causing no pain to the patient.

Renal colic is a condition that occurs when large kidney stones travel out of the patient’s kidney through the ureter causing sharp pain in the patient’s lower back. Such pain is always accompanied by nausea.

Kidney Stone Causes

Kidney stones develop due to build up of substances in the body. Such substances could be calcium (cause for Calcium stones), ammonia, uric acid (Uric acid stones), or cystine (Cystine stones).

Uric acids are waste products produced in the process of breaking down food to yield energy.

Individuals diagnosed with hyperuricemia (abnormal uric acid levels) are at a higher risk of Uric acid kidney stones.

Cystine on the other hand is a type of amino acid that aids in building proteins.

Variation of the normal balance of salts, minerals, water, and other constituent substances in the urine leads to formation of Kidney stones.

An increase in crystal-forming substances in an individual’s urine favours the formation of Kidney stones.

Failure to take sufficient amounts of water results in solidification of urine substances due to dehydration and consequently lead to formation of Kidney stones.

Concentration of urine allows minerals such as calcium to establish close contact with each other causing a sticking effect. This results to formation of Kidney stones.

Variations in the PH levels of the urine mean change in acid-base concentration which favors formation of Kidney stones.

Some medical conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, gout, and Crohn's disease may also lead to formation of Kidney stones.

Production of too much hormone by the parathyroid glands may also result in formation of Kidney stones.

Strenuous exercises that are not matched with adequate fluid intake also pose the risk of Kidney stones.

Struvite stones develop following urinary tract infections.

Uric acid stones are attributed to low fluid intake as well as a high-protein diet

Infections of the urinary tract lead to development of struvite stones also known as infection stones.

In some cases, mmetabolic abnormalities and other inherited disorders alter urine composition which may result to formation of Kidney stones.

Kidney conditions such as renal tubular acidosis can also increase the risk of Kidney stones.

Individuals who have gone through ostomy surgery or intestinal bypass are at a higher risk of suffering from Kidney stones.

Some dietary factors including a high-salt diet, high intake of vitamin D and animal protein, as well as excessive sugar may also increase the risk of kidney stones.

Known causal risk factors for Kidney stones include sedentary occupations, physical inactivity, acidic urine, alkaline urine, a family history of the disease, and Hypercalcuria.

It is also believed that an overactive parathyroid gland may be increase the risk of Kidney stones.

Recurrent Kidney stones are attributed to a low fiber intake, high protein intake, urinary and other kidney infections, and a case history in the patient’s family.

Cystine stones develop in individuals diagnosed with hereditary disorders responsible for cystinuria, a medical condition where one’s kidneys excrete amino acids excessively.

It is also important to note that some pregnancy-related factors may heighten the risk of Kidney stones. Such factors include a rise in progesterone levels which has the potential of slowing down the passage of urine, and the reduced fluid intake during pregnancy due to a diminishing bladder capacity as the mother’s uterus enlarges under the weight of the baby.

In rare cases, a person forms kidney stones because the parathyroid glands produce too much of a hormone. This leads to higher calcium levels and possibly calcium kidney stones.

Kidney Stone Diagnosis

Diagnosis for Kidney stones seeks to reveal the location of kidney stones and to establish if they pose any risk of damaging the urinary tract.

Patients with renal colic (those with large kidney stones) report classic symptoms of sharp and intense pains accompanied with nausea. Diagnosis of such patients largely depends on the patient’s medical history and physical examination.

Through physical examination, medical doctors can detect any tenderness in kidney locations. Alternatively, doctors may also examine the scrotum in males and perform a pelvic exam in females.

Imaging tests which include intravenous pyelography and a CT scan are also carried out by doctors to diagnose cases of Kidney stones. Metabolic tests are then ordered by doctors should stones be found. These tests are run on urine samples taken within 24 hours and include urine PH and urine culture.

The most preferred test for Kidney stones is a noncontrast spiral computed tomography, a special CT scan that works by moving in a circle.

In the past, doctors performed intravenous pyelograms (IVP) to image the patient’s urinary tract

As the diagnosis progresses, patients are treated to relieve them of pain, if any pain is reported.

In most cases, clinical diagnosis involves performing a number of blood and urine tests to tell if one has Kidney stones.

Urinalysis is also performed with the objective of detecting any blood traces in the patient’s urine as well as examining any white blood cells or bacteria associated with any of the potential infections.

In cases where there is fear of kidney failure, kidney function tests are performed.

Doctors make use of abdominal X-ray (KUB) to get a picture of the patient’s kidneys, ureters, and the bladder.

For pregnant women, an ultrasound exam is performed on the patient’s kidneys.

To find out the specific type of kidney stones, a number of tests are performed including stone analysis, blood chemistry screen, and urine collection.

In stone analysis, fine gauze is used to collect stones in your urine which are then determined and analysed by your doctor.

Blood chemistry screen measures the patient’s kidney function, which includes taking measurements of calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolyte levels.

Urine collection on the other hand allows doctors to measure the PH and volume of the substances that lead to kidney stone formation.

Kidney Stone Treatment

Treatment for Kidney stones concentrates on relieving pain and hydration. Renal colic (large kidney stones) for instance is associated with intense pains which have to be controlled as diagnosis for Kidney stones progresses.

To control sharp pains, patients are treated to intravenous medications which include anti-inflammatory medications, narcotics, and special medications to control nausea and vomiting.

The most prominent pain medications include ibuprofen, which is anti-inflammatory, and Tamsulosin (Flomax) which aid in stone passage.

Kidney stones may cause obstruction and consequently lead to kidney failure in cases where the patient survives on a solitary kidney. Such cases should be referred to a urologist who may use a stent to bypass the kidney stones or choose to remove the stones.

Stones near the patient’s bladder will require your doctor to perform ureteroscopy.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is the preferred option for patients with large kidney stones. In this case, doctors insert a special instrument through an incision in the patient’s skin driving it directly to the kidney.

Doctors may suggest home treatment for patients if the kidney stones can pass out on their own. Patients who accept this mode of treatment should be ready to withstand the pain associated with the same.

In cases where the patient has been diagnosed with small kidney stones, treatment may not be necessary. In such cases, your doctor may recommend pain medications and stress on the need to increase fluid intake.

Drinking adequate amounts of water is recommended for patients with small kidney stones.

Occasionally, doctors may also suggest surgery for patients with large kidney stones which cause intense pain and severe bleeding as they travel down the urinary tract. Such Kidney stones could be as a result of an infection.

The various forms of surgery include open surgery and nephrolithotripsy.

Open surgery allows your doctor to cut through his patient’s side to reach his kidneys with the aim of removing the stones.

In nephrolithotripsy,a hollow tube is inserted into the patient’s kidney to remove or beak the stones.

It is the responsibility of your doctor to prescribe the most appropriate medicine to control the pain caused by Kidney stones.

Using a scope to remove stones. To remove a smaller stone in your ureter or kidney, your doctor may pass a thin lighted tube (ureteroscope) equipped with a camera through your urethra and bladder to your ureter. Once the stone is located, special tools can snare the stone or break it into pieces that will pass in your urine. Your doctor may then place a small tube (stent) in the ureter to relieve swelling and promote healing. You may need general or local anesthesia during this procedure.

Parathyroid gland surgery. Some calcium stones are caused by overactive parathyroid glands, which are located on the four corners of your thyroid gland, just below your Adam's apple. When these glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism), your calcium levels can become too high and kidney stones may form as a result. Hyperparathyroidism sometimes occurs when a small, benign tumor forms in one of your parathyroid glands or you develop another condition that leads these glands to produce more parathyroid hormone. Removing the growth from the gland stops the formation of kidney stones. Or your doctor may recommend treatment of the condition that's causing your parathyroid gland to overproduce the hormone.

Kidney Stone Prevention

Drink water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing about 2.6 quarts (2.5 liters) of urine a day. Your doctor may ask that you measure your urine output to make sure that you're drinking enough water. If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you're likely drinking enough water.

Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate and soy products.

Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose nonanimal protein sources, such as legumes.

Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements. Calcium in food doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as these have been linked to increased risk of kidney stones. You may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals.

Calcium stones. To help prevent calcium stones from forming, your doctor may prescribe a thiazide diuretic or a phosphate-containing preparation.

Uric acid stones. Your doctor may prescribe allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) to reduce uric acid levels in your blood and urine and a medicine to keep your urine alkaline. In some cases, allopurinol and an alkalinizing agent may dissolve the uric acid stones.

Struvite stones. To prevent struvite stones, your doctor may recommend strategies to keep your urine free of bacteria that cause infection. Long-term use of antibiotics in small doses may help achieve this goal. For instance, your doctor may recommend an antibiotic before and for a while after surgery to treat your kidney stones.

Cystine stones. Cystine stones can be difficult to treat. Your doctor may recommend that you drink more fluids so that you produce a lot more urine. If that alone doesn't help, your doctor may also prescribe a medication that decreases the amount of cystine in your urine.

It is important to note that individuals with a history of Kidney stones are at more likely to experience Kidney stones again than those never exposed before.

To prevent getting kidney stones if you have a history of the same, you are advised to take plenty of fluids and to change your diet. To change your diet, you will need the advice of your doctor.

Doctors suggest that you take 8 to 10 glasses of water in a day to keep your urine water-clear or light yellow.

Dark yellow urine indicates that an individual is not drinking the right amounts of water and fluids and may be at a risk of getting Kidney stones.

A dietician or your doctor will guide you on the right diet that will help keep Kidney stones at bay.

Individuals with liver, heart, or kidney diseases and practicing fluid restrictions should talk to their doctors before increasing their fluid intake.

You can prevent Calcium stones by taking medicines such as Orthophosphate, Potassium citrate, or Thiazides.

To prevent Uric acid stones, doctors suggest any of the following medicines; Allopurinol, Potassium citrate, or Sodium bicarbonate.

Medicines that prevent Cystine stones include Penicillamine, Potassium citrate, and Tiopronin.

Kidney Stone Statistics & Facts

Kidney stones are common disorders that affect the urinary tract.

Kidney stones are formed when small specks of minerals settle out of the human urine into either the kidney or the urinary tract (ureter).

The various types of Kidney stones are classified according to the constituent chemicals of the stones.

More cases of Kidney stones have been reported in hot climates during the summer time as opposed to those reported in cold climates.

A total of over 1 million people were diagnosed with kidney stones in 1985 according to NWHIC.

The most common risk factors for Kidney stones include high blood pressure, diabetes, and a case history of kidney failure.

In the US alone, 1 out of every 9 Americans has kidney stones.

A majority of people survive on 2 kidneys; however, it is still possible for one to live on a single kidney.

Detecting and treating Kidney stones at an earlier point in time slows and prevents progression of Kidney stones.

Kidneys filter blood and get rid of excess fluid and other wastes after every 30 minutes.

Simple urine and blood tests help tell if an individual’s kidneys are functioning properly.

The incidence rate for Kidney stones is estimated to be about 7 percent in women and 13 percent in men. This means that men are more likely to have Kidney stones than women.

About 1,000,000 cases are reported annually, 83,333 monthly, 2,739 daily, 114 hourly, and 1 every minute.

A majority of the Kidney stones are of the Calcium-type which occurs when the calcium levels in the urine change.

More than 80 percent of the total population diagnosed with kidney stones are men.

Chemicals such as oxalate, cysteine, and uric acid which are known to cause Kidney stones can be passed on from one family to another down to other generations.

Symptoms for Kidney stones only manifest when the kidney stones start to move down the patient’s ureter, or when they cause a urinary tract infection.

Kidney Stones Treatment Remedies plus

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What are Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract. Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine (hematuria) and often severe pain in the abdomen, flank, or groin. Kidney stones are sometimes called renal calculi.

Kidney stones usually comprised of a compound called calcium oxalate, are the result of an accumulation of dissolved minerals on the inner lining of the kidneys. These deposits can grow to the size of a golf ball while maintaining a sharp, crystalline structure.

The condition of having kidney stones is termed nephrolithiasis. Having stones at any location in the urinary tract is referred to as urolithiasis, and the term ureterolithiasis is used to refer to stones located in the ureters.

The kidney stones may be small and pass unnoticed out of the urinary tract, but they may also cause extreme pain upon exiting.

Kidney stones that remain inside the body can lead to many conditions, including severe pain and ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder) blockage that obstructs the path urine uses to leave the body.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stones, which form in the kidney, will only cause pain as they travel through the urinary tract; while in the kidney, they are not painful. During their movement, Kidney stones will therefore cause intense and persistent pain especially in the patient’s back, groin area, genitals, or in the abdomen.

Sharp pain in your back or lower abdomen, the area between your chest and hips

The pain may last for a short or long time. You may have nausea and vomiting with the pain.

The pain has been described by many as the worst pain of their lives, even worse than the pain of childbirth or broken bones.

Pain while urinating.

Blood in your urine.

Kidney Stone Causes

Not drinking enough water. When you don't drink enough water, the salts, minerals, and other substances in the urine can stick together and form a stone. This is the most common cause of kidney stones.

Calcium stones. Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a naturally occurring substance found in food. Some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate levels. Your liver also produces oxalate. Dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery and several metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine.

Struvite stones. Struvite stones form in response to an infection, such as 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 don't drink enough fluids or who lose too much fluid, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those who have gout. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.

Cystine stones. These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of certain amino acids (cystinuria).

Medical conditions. Many medical conditions can affect the normal balance and cause stones to form. Examples include gout and inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease.

Kidney Stone Treatment

Drinking water. Drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts (1.9 to 2.8 liters) a day may help flush out your urinary system. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, drink enough fluid — mostly water — to produce clear or nearly clear urine.

Pain relievers. Passing a small stone can cause some discomfort. To relieve mild pain, your doctor may recommend pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Medical therapy. Your doctor may give you a medication to help pass your kidney stone. This type of medication, known as an alpha blocker, relaxes the muscles in your ureter, helping you pass the kidney stone more quickly and with less pain.

Using sound waves to break up stones. For certain kidney stones — depending on size and location — your doctor may recommend a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (SWL). SWL uses sound waves to create strong vibrations (shock waves) that break the stones into tiny pieces that can be passed in your urine. The procedure lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and can cause moderate pain, so you may be under sedation or light anesthesia to make you comfortable. SWL can cause blood in the urine, bruising on the back or abdomen, bleeding around the kidney and other adjacent organs, and discomfort as the stone fragments pass through the urinary tract.

Surgery to remove very large stones in the kidney. A procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (nef-row-lih-THOT-uh-me) involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back. You'll receive general anesthesia during the surgery and be in the hospital for one to two days while you recover. Your doctor may recommend this surgery if SWL was unsuccessful or if your stone is very large.

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