Identifying Early Signs of a Kidney Stone

If you’ve been having abdominal pains, one of the possible causes could be the development of kidney stones. It is estimated that 11% of men and 6% of women will experience kidney stones in their lifetime, and the numbers are increasing. This raises the question, what are the early signs of a kidney stone? Read on to learn about the types of kidney stones, early signs, and treatment options available.

What are Kidney Stones?

If you suspect that you have kidney stones, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The condition can be extremely painful and may damage the kidneys if left untreated. So, what are kidney stones? This condition is characterized by small crystals being deposited on the inside of the kidney and traveling down the urinary tract. It can be the result of a number of factors, including insufficient water consumption and eating too much sugar or salt. Having said that, there are different types of kidney stones to look out for.

Related: How to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection this Summer

Calcium Stones

The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone. Symptoms of this condition are caused by an excess of calcium in the body. Occasionally, calcium can be found in large quantities in the urine, a condition known as hypercalciuria, or in the intestines. This most likely occurs when either you do not absorb calcium properly from your bones or your kidneys do not function properly to regulate calcium absorption.

Those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis may develop calcium stones as a result of an excess of oxalate in their urine. Having previously undergone intestinal surgery may also contribute to this condition. There are also calcium phosphate kidney stones, which are caused by renal tubular acidosis and are much less common than calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Struvite Stones

Struvite stones are caused by an infection that raises the level of ammonia in the body. The rise in ammonia levels results in an increase in the pH of your urine, which causes it to become alkaline, or more base than acidic. The result is struvite, which is a mixture of magnesium, ammonia, phosphate, and calcium carbonate. A condition such as upper urinary UTIs can cause a buildup of bacteria and lead to the formation of struvite kidney stones.

Uric Acid Stones

Fluid loss due to malabsorption or chronic diarrhea can result in the development of uric acid stones. The body produces uric acid through the metabolism of protein, so individuals with genetic predispositions, diabetes, and high protein diets are more likely to suffer from these types of kidney stones. Among the high-protein foods are red meats, beans, nuts, poultry, and seafood. As a result of the inability to metabolize uric acid, individuals with a history of arthritis such as gout are also more likely to develop uric acid kidney stones.

Cystine Stones

Cystine stones are among the rarest types of kidney stones. This condition is typically inherited and caused by a metabolic disorder called cystinuria. Because this condition is lifelong, you will have to actively manage the kidney stones.

Suggested: Steps to Prepare for a Male Urology Exam

Early Signs of a Kidney Stone

After identifying the different types of kidney stones, let’s examine the early signs and symptoms of kidney stones. Most often, gender and health history play a significant role in determining your likelihood of developing a kidney stone. Nine percent of women, and 11% of men, will experience a kidney stone in their lifetime.

A history of high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity increases these numbers even further. With these things in mind, the top demographics with higher risk of these health issues are black and hispanic. The most susceptible group of people to develop kidney stones early is those in their working years. This is due to a variety of lifestyle choices, including diet, which may lead to the formation of kidney stones.

Related: Questions to Ask Your Urologist About Kidney Stones

Symptoms

In order to better understand some of the most common symptoms, let us examine them. Often, you will experience abdominal pain, which could be caused by a variety of factors. However, the location of the pain, such as in the flank area, the back, or the sides, is one of the most significant indicators. Symptoms and early signs of kidney stones include:

  • Severe pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in urine 
  • Fever/chills

To ensure that there are no additional factors to consider, you should consult with your healthcare provider. Once you have determined that there is a kidney stone causing your discomfort, you can proceed to finding solutions.

Suggested: When Should a Woman See a Urologist? 

Treatment Option and Preventable Measures

The treatment of kidney stones can range from noninvasive procedures to surgery. Typically, it depends on the size and type of the stones, however, regardless of the size, it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Various types of medications can be taken to reduce the size of the stone so that it can be passed more easily. 

Small Stones

In the case of small stones, drinking water can help to push them out, which can be combined with a pain reliever. In terms of medication, alpha blockers can assist in relaxing the muscles in your ureter and facilitating the passage of the stone more easily.

Large Stones

For kidney stones that are a bit larger, there are several methods that can be used to remove them in order to prevent any damage or infection. The first method involves breaking up the stones with sound waves. The procedure depends on the size and location of the tumor, but is generally noninvasive. Surgery is another option for removing kidney stones. The process can be carried out using a scope and a variety of small telescopes. When medication does not work, specialists usually recommend this procedure.

Prevention

Furthermore, changing your lifestyle can assist in the treatment of kidney stones as well as prevent them from occurring in the future. This can include limiting calcium rich foods and foods high in salt and animal protein. It’s always important to stay hydrated with plenty of water and limit your soft drink intake.

Related: 10 Signs You Need to Visit the Urologist

Manage Your Kidney Health at USOC

Take preventative measures to avoid UTIs, other infections, as well as kidney stones by managing your kidney health. USOC values your need for appropriate educational materials and offers a variety of treatment options for your overall urinary health. Our team specializes in a range of urinary health services, including treatment and prevention of prostate cancer, prolapsed bladder treatment, and more. To schedule your appointment, click the button below. Our team is eager to assist you!

Request An Appointment