Kidney stones are a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. This condition is the number one reason why people schedule a urology appointment. Kidney stones typically affect women more than men, and people between the ages of 20 and 40 are more likely to develop kidney stones. This condition is prevalent, but many people don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of kidney stones. Early diagnosis can help you find treatment faster. Below, let’s take a look at this common yet misunderstood condition.
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are small, hard stones made of mineral deposits from salt found naturally within your kidneys. There are many reasons why kidney stones may develop, but usually, your diet, body weight, and certain medical conditions may make you more likely to develop kidney stones. This condition can occur in any part of your urinary tract, and kidney stones may develop in your bladder or kidneys. Some people may be able to pass a kidney stone naturally, but this is not always possible. Much of your ability to pass kidney stones naturally will depend on the size of the stone, your age, and overall health.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Most people do not even realize they have a kidney stone in their urinary tract until it starts to move. Stones that develop in the kidney will pass through the ureter, part of the urinary tract, and often become stuck. When the stone is stuck, people start to develop symptoms because the ureter will spasm. Some common symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Pain when urinating
- Pain that comes in waves
- Sharp severe pain below the ribs, in the side, or the back
- Pain that radiates from the groin
Symptoms can vary between people, and while not always universal, other symptoms can include:
- Discolored urine
- Constant urge to urinate, urinating more frequently, or only urinating small amounts
- Fever or chills
As the stone moves through your urinary tract, the pain will fluctuate in intensity and change locations. If your painful symptoms change frequently, this is a good indication that a kidney stone is to blame.
Am I At Risk For Kidney Stones?
Sometimes kidney stones are out of your control, and your medical history or family genetics will put you at higher risk of developing this condition. However, your lifestyle can significantly impact your risk level. You may be at risk if:
- You regularly become dehydrated throughout the day.
- You eat a high protein, sugar, and sodium diet.
- You have had gastric bypass surgery.
- You have a higher than average body mass index.
- You regularly take vitamin C, laxatives, or dietary supplements that are rich in calcium.
How Are Kidney Stones Treated?
Sometimes, it is possible to pass a kidney stone naturally, but this will largely depend on your overall health and the size of the stone. Other times, medication may be required, or doctors may use sound waves to help break the stones into manageable pieces to allow them to pass naturally. Still, sometimes surgery is required to move large stones or stones that are not responding to other treatment methods. If you suspect that you may have a kidney stone, scheduling a urology appointment with a professional medical doctor is the best way to receive an accurate diagnosis. Meeting with your urologist, you will come up with a treatment plan together to give you fast relief.