If you have never suffered the pain of kidney stones, you should count yourself lucky, but these small, hard mineral deposits that build up in your kidney are not something to be taken lightly.
These stones form when the kidney becomes overly concentrated, allowing the minerals in the urine to crystallize and bind together. These can be caused when the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, or when you’re dehydrated.
There are also numerous types of stones, depending on the cause of the mineral buildup:
- Calcium oxalate stones
- Struvite stones
- Uric acid stones
- Cystine stones
These stones can move throughout your urinary system and affect it in numerous ways, from the original source in the kidney all the way to the bladder. Knowing which type of stone has formed can help guide your treatment strategy and suggest which lifestyle changes may need to be made.
While they are forming in the kidney, the symptoms rarely manifest, but when one of those stones moves into the ureter – the tube linking the bladder and the kidney – the symptoms become very apparent.
- Sharp pain in the back and side, in the space below the ribs, that spreads to pain in the groin and lower abdomen, often coming in waves, particularly while urinating.
- Urge to urinate very frequently, but only a small amount of urine will be produced, and the process is often painful, with the urine being cloudy, pink, red or brown, accompanied with a foul smell.
- Kidney stones can also cause nausea or vomiting in some people, particularly if there is an underlying infection causing the build-up of stones.