What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small pieces of hard, crystallized material that form in the kidney. Kidney stones are often made up of calcium, but can also contain uric acid or amino acids (proteins). Kidney stones, also called urolithiasis, are a common condition.

One or more kidney stones can form in one or both kidneys. Kidney stones begin as tiny specks and may gradually increase in size. A person with a small kidney stone may not have symptoms and may be unaware of the condition. In some cases, small stones in the urine may pass out of the kidney and move down the ureter, into the bladder, and out of the body without causing pain or serious problems.

There are generally no symptoms of a large kidney stone that remains in the kidney. However, when a large kidney stone moves out of the kidney into the ureter toward the bladder, it causes severe flank, abdominal, and groin pain, called renal colic. Some have described renal colic as the most intense painful experience encountered in life. Other symptoms of a large kidney stone that has moved out of the kidney include blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, and nausea, with or without vomiting.

Kidney stones may be prevented in some cases by ensuring good hydration and with prescribed medication if you are in a high-risk population, such as those with a personal history of kidney stones. Once a stone has developed and causes symptoms, treatment may include hospitalization, pain medication, and certain procedures that remove or crush large stones so that the stone can move more easily out of the body. Small kidney stones may not require treatment.

Most kidney stones pass out of the body in the urine. On occasion, a kidney stone can get stuck in a ureter and result in potentially serious, even life-threatening complications, such as kidney infection and kidney damage. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of passing a kidney stone, such as severe flank or abdominal pain, not urinating, or bloody urine. Rapid diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of complications.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Small kidney stones or kidney stones that do not move and remain in the kidney may not produce any symptoms. A small kidney stone may pass in the urine out of the body without causing pain or visible blood in the urine.

When a large kidney stone moves out of the kidney and into the ureter, it generally causes severe, sharp and stabbing pain in the flank area of the lower back. Thi... Read more about kidney stonessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones are tiny hard stones that form in the kidney as a result of a buildup of crystallized material. Kidney stones are often made up of calcium, but they can also contain uric acid or amino acids (proteins). One or more kidney stones can form in one or both kidneys. Kidney stones begin as tiny specks and may gradually increase ... Read more about kidney stonescauses

TREATMENTS

How are kidney stones treated?

It is common for a person with a small kidney stone to be unaware of the condition. In fact, it may pass out of the body spontaneously without any treatment. Larger kidney stones that move out of the kidney often require treatment.

General treatment of kidney stones

General treatment of kidney stones includes:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System


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