About 9% of American adults will experience kidney stones in their lifetime. If one of these stones passes through your system, you’ll eventually notice a variety of unpleasant sensations, including pain during urination.
However, as the name implies, kidney stones form in the kidneys. Because of this, you may experience discomfort in other areas, such as your lower back, abdomen and groin, as a stone travels downward.
Here are a few other symptoms to look out for:
- Cloudy urine
- Constant need to urinate
- Urine that’s an unusual color, such as red, pink or brown
A kidney stone can also cause an infection. If that’s the case, you’ll begin to notice a fever or chills.
What causes kidney stones?
Why would your body produce something as painful as a kidney stone?
Dehydration is the likely culprit. Drinking 2 to 2.5 liters of fluid each day will greatly reduce your risk of kidney stones. If you’re very active or if the weather is warmer, you should drink even more than that.
A few other factors also play a role in kidney stone formation. For example, if other members of your family have a history of developing kidney stones, you’re more at risk as well. Also, if you’ve already passed stones in the past, you’re at a higher risk of forming more stones.
What you eat and how much you eat can also increase your risk of kidney stones. Too much sodium, protein or sugar in your diet can lead to the formation of these stones. People who are obese are also at a higher risk of kidney stones.
Certain health issues as well as some medications and medical procedures also make it more likely that stones will form.
Know the types of stones
Roughly 80% of kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones, which are caused by there being too much calcium in your urine. But there are several other types as well. Each may form as a result of a specific health condition.
For example, struvite stones, which form suddenly, can develop during urinary tract infections. On the other hand, cysteine stones form due to a disorder called cystinuria, an inherited disease. Uric acid stones are another type of kidney stone. They can form due to issues such as Type 2 diabetes, gout, obesity or excessive animal protein in your diet.
Know your treatment options
The size of the kidney stones will determine your treatment options. If the stones are small, you can solve the problem by drinking more water and taking over-the-counter pain relievers as you wait for the stones to pass. A doctor might also suggest making other lifestyle changes, such as cutting your salt intake or avoiding certain foods.
Larger stones might need more complex treatments. For example, a doctor can use sound waves to break down the stones. Surgery to remove kidney stones is also an option if a stone is too large to pass. With larger kidney stones, stronger pain management tactics may be needed as well.
Learn more about the health services we offer at Bon Secours.