What Are Kidney Stones?
When high levels of minerals and salt exist in the kidneys, they can form a clump of matter known as a kidney stone. These stones may stay inside of the kidney, where they will not cause any further harm.
The real problem begins when these kidney stones enter the ureter and block urine from traveling through the ureter to the bladder. This blockage caused by the kidney stone becomes very painful, and can require surgery if they do not pass on their own.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Other than pain, patients with kidney stones often experience other symptoms such as:
- Persistent need to urinate
- Cloudy or discolored urine, usually pink, red, or brown in color
- Foul-smelling urine
- Frequent urination
- Fever or chills, typically occurs when there is an infection present
- Pain radiating from the lower abdomen and groin, or in the back below the ribs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful urination
Types of Kidney Stones
Not all kidney stones are the same. The exact type of kidney stone will determine the course of action used to treat the patient’s kidney stones. These types of kidney stones include:
- Calcium stones (most common)
- Uric acid stones
- Struvite stones
- Cystine stones
Treatment for Kidney Stones
As previously mentioned, the method of treatment will depend on the particular type of kidney stone that has developed, but many of these stones are treated in similar ways.
Most often, kidney stones will come to pass. You can assist this process by drinking lots of water and taking over-the-counter pain medicine to help with pain management. It can take about four to six weeks for a kidney stone to pass. This may seem like a long amount of time, but it is safe to continue trying to pass a kidney stone on your own so long as the pain is manageable and there are no present signs of an infection. If you suspect that there may be an infection spreading within your kidney or ureter, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Some medications have been shown to help increase the body’s ability to pass kidney stones. Such medications work by relaxing the ureter, which provides the kidney stone with ample room to make its way to the bladder, where it will finally exit the body through urination. Prescription strength painkillers may also be necessary depending on each individual case.
If the pain becomes too great, or if the ureter becomes completely blocked and begins to affect kidney function, surgery may be necessary. Modern technology allows for this surgery to be minimally invasive with minor recovery time. The most common types of surgery for the removal of kidney stones include:
- Ureteroscopy (URS)
- Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL)
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
More From Dr. David
If you are struggling with pain or an infection caused by kidney stones, please schedule an appointment with Dr. David to discuss your treatment options. To contact Dr. David, please call our office today at (818) 990-5020.