A small kidney stone may be less than 5 millimeters in size, but it can cause mighty discomfort. Kidney stones are made up of tiny crystals; they form over time when your urine contains too many of certain substances like calcium oxalate, cystine, or uric acid.
Kidney stones are relatively common, affecting some 11% of men and 6% of women at some point in their lifetime. Symptoms arise most often when the stone moves down through the ureter tubes, which empties urine into your bladder.
Even small stones can cause severe pain that starts suddenly in your belly or one side of your back. You may notice your urine is an abnormal color or has streaks of blood. Fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting are other symptoms.
Here at Buschemeyer Urology, we understand the concerns and questions — and downright fear and pain — that arise when you have a kidney stone. After a physical exam and imaging tests, we may determine that you can avoid surgery. Your stone can pass on its own without causing permanent harm.
Here’s what to expect when a small kidney stone passes naturally.
Why we’d decide to let a kidney stone pass on its own
The factors to consider when deciding how to treat a kidney stone include:
- Size of the stone: Smaller stones are more likely to pass naturally and not cause obstruction
- Location of the stone: Stones closer to the bladder pass more naturally, while those in the upper urinary tract are harder to pass
- Pain management: Severe or persistent pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain relievers and plenty of fluids may require medical intervention.
We thoroughly evaluate your stones and their location to help you determine if you should try and let them pass on their own.
What you can expect with passing of a kidney stone
Expect to experience discomfort and pain when you pass a kidney stone. The team at Buschemeyer Urology usually recommends over-the-counter medications to help ease discomfort but sometimes will prescribe more powerful pain medications, too.
Applying heat to the area of pain with a heating pad or hot water bottle may also offer relief.
Hydration is key to encouraging the stone’s movement through the urinary tract. Consuming plenty of fluids can also help prevent the formation of additional stones.
We’ll ask you to monitor your symptoms and watch for blood in the urine or possible infection. The process of passing the stone can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You’ll need to be patient, but if the pain becomes unbearable or you become worried that you’re developing complications, please reach out to our office.
When you need medical care
You need care if your kidney stone is causing unmanageable pain or resulting in fever, chills, or urinary tract infection symptoms. We may also recommend intervention if your stone hasn't passed after a reasonable period of time.
Dr. W. Cooper Buschemeyer may recommend surgery if the stone is just too large to pass on its own or if it’s growing. Surgery is also a necessity if the stone is blocking urine flow, causing an infection, or endangering your kidneys.
While small kidney stones can often pass on their own, it’s not always easy. The team
Buschemeyer Urology is here to support you and offer assistance when needed. Call today or use the online tool to schedule an appointment.