Kidney stones are incredibly painful and send more than half a million people to the emergency room each year.
Kidney stones form when salts, minerals, and other waste chemicals build up and form small, hard deposits. In most people, there’s enough liquid in your kidneys to easily flush out this waste. But, if there’s not enough liquid, the chemicals form crystals that bind together and create stones.
These kidney stones may start in your kidneys, but need to exit your body through your urinary tract. Sometimes, you pass tiny stones without any real symptoms. But, if the stones are larger, they cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra, resulting in pain.
At Buschemeyer Urology, our team, headed up by W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, has the experience and expertise to diagnose and remove problematic kidney stones. Here are the telltale signs that you have a kidney stone and what to do about it.
1. Abdominal pain
Kidney stone pain can come out of nowhere. The pain can radiate to the lower abdomen and groin. It may fluctuate in intensity and come in waves.
2. Low back pain
Pain from kidney stones can also strike in the sides of your body and your back — below the area of the rib cage. The pain can occur on either side of your low back. The exact location of the pain may shift as the stone moves through your urinary tract. The pain is sometimes so severe that you can't sit still or find a comfortable position.
3. Changes in your urination patterns
You’ll notice changes in urination, including pain and burning during the stream. You may also need to urinate more often than usual and only release small amounts when you do.
4. Smelly, cloudy urine
Sometimes, kidney stones can make your urine look cloudier than usual. It may also have a foul odor.
5. Blood in the urine
If your urine looks pink, brown, or red, it may have blood in it — a possible indication of kidney stones. Unless you’ve recently eaten a beet salad, pink or red urine is always a cause for concern and means you should contact our office.
6. Nausea or vomiting
The pain of passing a kidney stone can lead to nausea and even vomiting.
7. Fever and chills
If the kidney stone has led to an infection, you may have fever and chills.
8. Pain at the tip of the penis
For men, the discomfort of a kidney stone may radiate all the way from the ureter to the tip of the penis.
What to do about kidney stones
The smallest kidney stones may pass without any incident. You may not even know you have them. Even small stones that are symptomatic pass readily and the pain can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.
Stones that are larger, about 4 millimeters or greater in size, require help from an experienced urologist, like Dr. Buschemeyer. You want to make sure they don’t get lodged in your urinary tract and cause health complications.
Large stones can be broken down using extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy or removed with surgery.
If you do have kidney stones that pass, you’re at risk of developing ones in the future. Dr. Buschemeyer can help you adapt your lifestyle to prevent the reformation of stones.
If you have signs of a kidney stone, don’t delay in getting help. Come see us at our Conroe, Willis, and The Woodlands, Texas, offices. Call Buschemeyer Urology to set up a consultation, or use website to arrange your appointment.