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Warning Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones Revealed By Urologist

It is important to know what the symptoms of kidney stones are because the pain which is caused by kidney stones can be very bad and patients end up in the emergency department for pain relief. So, it becomes necessary that we know and understand what the symptoms of kidney stones are so that we can take timely consultation and treatment and avoid emergency visits.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Here are the common symptoms caused by a kidney stone which if, unfortunately present, you need to see your urologist as soon as possible, explains Urologist Dr Nitin Shrivastava

1. Pain in the sides

The kidney stone typically presents with pain which is located in your sides either on your left or on your right side. It depends on the location of the stone, for example if the stone is in the kidney the pain would be felt on the sides and towards the back. you will have a sharp pricking pain located on your right or left side towards the back. If this stone moves down into the pipe which is called the ureter, the pain will start moving down towards the front and down towards the groin area. the pain typically presents in a colicky fashion. which means there will be a sudden onset of severe pain which will get relieved after some time either on its own or with some medications only to come back again. This pain radiates from your side or back down to the groin area on the same side. If this stone has moved down in the pipe to the lower area near the urinary bladder, this pain is felt sometimes in the groin or in the testicle of the same side or at the tip of the penis. If you have any of these symptoms you should suspect a pain caused by a kidney stone and you should consult a urologist.

2. Vomiting

Kidney stones can also present with a sensation of or with vomiting especially if the stone has come down into the pipe and it has obstructed the flow of urine. With obstructed urine flow there is swelling in the Kidney and the urine gets accumulated. With this swelling of the kidney the patient feels a sensation of vomiting and sometimes starts vomiting. This vomiting can be severe and the patient is not able to take fluids, medicines or even food in which case the patient needs admission and is given intravenous fluids and glucose and pain killers sometimes with antibiotics.


3. Blood in urine

Kidney stones can cause gross visible bleeding in urine and can also cause microscopic bleeding in urine which is not seen with the naked eyes but is seen on your routine urine examination. This is caused by the irritation caused by the stone to the inside of the kidney or the pipe called ureter. This bleeding sometimes can be quite frightening and is typically associated with pain. The patient presents with typical side or flank pain associated with blood in urine. These symptoms point towards the underlying kidney or ureteral stone

4. Difficulty in passing urine

Kidney stones especially if they have come down into the lower ureter (the pipe which carries urine) or if they have moved into the bladder can cause different types of urinary symptoms. Most commonly the patient has increased frequency of urination when the patient goes to pass urine multiple times and only passes a few drops. There can also be associated urgency which means the patient has a sudden urge to pass urine which cannot be postponed and sometimes the urine gets leaked wetting the undergarment. If the stone is down near the bladder or in the bladder or sometimes in the urinary passage which is called urethra the patient also experiences pain while passing urine or severe burning sensation while passing urine which is caused by the stone stuck in the urine pipe causing irritation to the inside of the system. Burning sensation in passing urine can also be a symptom of an associated urinary tract infection which is sometimes caused by the stone itself.


5. Decreasing urine output

This is an uncommon symptom with kidney stones and is typically seen when the stones are present in both the kidneys or both the urine pipes, when the urine produced by both the kidneys is getting obstructed. the patient will see a decreased urine output over a period of 24 hours. This can also happen when the stone is there in only one kidney but the other kidney is not functioning properly. Kidney stone disease with decreasing urine output presents an emergency when the patient needs to visit the emergency department where the urologist advises for urgent decompression of the system to release the obstructed urine to save the kidneys from failing.

6. Recurrent UTI or fever

Sometimes the stones, especially the stones which are smooth on the surface, can present only with urinary tract infection. Because of very minimal irritation of the inside of the kidney there is less pain and less vomiting but the stone itself can cause urinary tract infection. If there is any degree of urinary flow obstruction, this infection can become severe and the patient now starts developing fever which can be high grade fever associated with chills. If you have a kidney stone which is associated with urinary tract infection and you are having fever this is an urgent situation where an obstructed urinary flow is getting infected which can lead to Frank pus formation causing severe infection spreading into the bloodstream known as sepsis. Any kidney stone associated with fever is an urgent situation where you must meet your Urologist as soon as possible. 

7. Asymptomatic kidney stones found on investigations 

Sometimes when the stones are very smooth they don't give you any pain or vomiting sensation but they keep damaging your kidneys gradually which is seen on abnormal blood reports where your serum creatinine levels rise or kidney stones are seen on ultrasound which was done for any other reason. So if you have found a kidney stone on ultrasound which is not giving you any pain but is causing swelling in the kidneys and if your creatinine is high you must consult a urologist because this can lead to kidney failure and is a preventable cause. 

These are the common symptoms and presentations of kidney stones. India is witnessing an increasing number of patients with kidney stones. Many are presenting late at a stage where there has already been some damage to the kidney function. It is very strongly advisable to consult a urologist timely if you have these symptoms or if there is any abnormality on your routine blood test or ultrasound because this is a correctable problem and if treated timely your kidneys can be saved.