You notice blood in your urine or have pain in your side. Is it possible that you have kidney stones?
One out of every ten people will develop a kidney stone in their lifetime. Although it’s a common occurrence, many of us have trouble determining whether we’re dealing with a kidney stone or something else.
Dr. Sumanta Mishra, the best urologist in Bhubaneswar, explains the early warning signs and symptoms you shouldn’t ignore, as well as when you should seek treatment.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are solid, often irregularly shaped masses or crystals formed in the urinary tract from minerals and salts.
“They form in the kidney, but they can move around and get stuck in the ureter [the tube that empties urine of your kidney down to your bladder], causing symptoms,” Dr. Sumanta Mishra explains.
A common misunderstanding is that pain is caused by a kidney stone when, in fact, the pain is caused by the stone becoming stuck, usually in the ureter. The kidney will swell as urine backs up into it.
“The swelling of the kidney causes the pain because the kidney is not a stretchy organ, and swelling irritates the nerves on the surface of the kidney,” explains Dr. Sumanta Mishra of Bhubaneswar.
Dehydration, diet, medical conditions, medications, or a family history of kidney stones are all potential causes of kidney stones. Calcium phosphate, calcium oxalate, uric acid, and struvite are examples of different types of stones.
They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Dr. Sumanta Mishra says, “The smallest size could be as small as a poppy seed or even crystals that show up on a urine test but aren’t visible.”
“They can grow to the point where they fill the entire kidney, which can be more than 4 or 5 centimeters in diameter, depending on the size of the kidney.”
What are the signs that you have a kidney stone?
While kidney stones can be challenging to diagnose on their own and are frequently confused with other pains, Dr. Sumanta Mishra says that these are the early warning signs that you may have a kidney stone:
Pain in the flanks
Because your kidney is partially hidden beneath your ribs in the back, many people experience pain in the flank area located on either side of your middle back, between your pelvis and ribs.
The pain frequently spreads to your abdomen and groin area, which is the area of your hip between your stomach and thigh.
“A lot of people get confused because they may have back issues and think it’s a kidney stone, but the location is completely incorrect,” says Bhubaneswar-based Dr. Sumanta Mishra.
Kidney stone pain isn’t usually felt in the middle of the back by the spine or in the lower back by the hip bones.
Pain that appears and disappears
Renal colic is a type of pain that occurs regularly. As a result of urine passing around the stone, the pain will come and go.
Many people mistakenly believe that because the pain is gone, they’ve passed their stone.
It could simply mean that urine can now get around the stone and isn’t backing up into the kidney.
Vomiting and nausea
When you have a kidney stone, you may feel nauseated and vomit. An upset stomach can be caused by a shared nerve connection between the kidneys and the GI tract.
Blood in urine
If you notice blood in your urine, you may have a kidney stone. The amount of blood is undetectable and only revealed when a doctor performs a simple urine test.
Dr. Sumanta Mishra explains, “Some people will just see blood in their urine and have no other symptoms.” “Then it’s discovered that they have a kidney stone.”
Infection is a possibility
You could have a kidney stone if you think you have a bladder or kidney infection. Dr. Sumanta Mishra has seen several patients who have been diagnosed with urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder infections and have been prescribed antibiotics.
It turns out they don’t have an infection, They have a stone that has been bouncing around and causing inflammation for quite some time.
Some people have chronic infections that return time and time. They could also be suffering from kidney stones. Bacteria that cause disease can cling to a stone until it is treated.
“I encourage anyone who has had recurrent UTIs to get reviewed for a kidney stone because the bacteria may be adherent to the stone, and antibiotics can’t get inside the stone, so they may not be clearing the infection even with antibiotics,” says Dr. Sumanta Mishra.
If a kidney stone is infected, people may experience fever and chills in addition to other symptoms. Remember this.
A kidney stone that has become infected is a medical emergency.
Women vs Men
While symptoms can be similar in men and women, Dr. Sumanta Mishra says he sees many male patients with testicular pain.
He explains They come in thinking they have a testicular infection. It turns out to be a stone lodged in their bladder.
Are you able to tell if you’ve passed a stone?
Dr. Sumanta Mishra warns that the phrase “passing a stone” should be used with caution.
“There’s the painful part of passing the stone from the kidney to the bladder,” he explains.
Then there’s the bladder, which is located outside the urethra and usually doesn’t cause pain.
When people strain their urine or see a stone in the toilet, they often don’t realize they’ve urinated out a stone.
If you have severe pain, nausea, or vomiting, go to the emergency room. A urine mesh screen or a pee strainer, which you place on top of the toilet seat to collect any material in your urine, may be given to you.
Your kidney stone could resemble a grain of sand or a pebble. Any stones you collect should be kept safe and dry in a cup with a lid or a plastic bag until you give them to your doctor for analysis.
Your doctor will almost certainly give you advice on how to lower your risk of kidney stones, such as
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Eating fruits and vegetables with citrates like lemons, limes, oranges, and melons.
- Limiting salt.
- Limiting animal protein.
- Losing weight.
- Taking medication.
Seeing a urologist can help you navigate the best path forward if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure what changes would be best for you.
Dr. Sumanta Mishra of Bhubaneswar says, “There are a lot of nuanced things we can do to help treat and prevent kidney stones.”