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KIDNEY STONES

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are just what they sound like: small stones that form inside the kidneys. They form when salts and minerals that are normally in the urine build up and harden.

Kidney stones usually get carried out of the body when you urinate. But sometimes they can get stuck on the way out. If that happens, the stones can cause:

  • Pain in your side or in the lower part of your belly
  • Blood in the urine (which can make urine pink or red)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain when you urinate
  • The need to urinate in a hurry


How do I know if I have kidney stones?

If your doctor or nurse thinks you have kidney stones, he or she can order an imaging test that can show the stones.

How are kidney stones treated?

Each person’s treatment is a little different. The right treatment for you will depend on:

  • The size, type, and location of your stone
  • How much pain you have
  • How much you are vomiting

If your stone is big or causes severe symptoms, you might need to stay in the hospital. If your stone is small and causes only mild symptoms, you might be able to stay home and wait for it to pass in the urine. If you stay home, you will probably need to drink a lot of fluids. Plus, you might need to take pain medicines or medicines that make it easier to pass the stone.

Stones that do not pass on their own can be treated with:

  • A machine that uses sound waves to break up stones into smaller pieces. This is called “shock wave lithotripsy.” This procedure does not involve surgery, but it can be painful.
  • A special kind of surgery that makes very small holes in your skin. During this surgery, the doctor passes tiny tools through the holes and into the kidney. Then he or she removes the stone. This is called “percutaneous nephrolithotomy.”
  • A thin tube that goes into your body the same way urine comes out. Doctors use tools at the end the tube to break up or remove stones. This is called “ureteroscopy.”

What can I do to keep from getting kidney stones again?

One simple thing you can do is to drink plenty of water. You might also need to change what you eat, depending on what your kidney stones were made of. If so, your doctor or nurse can tell you which foods to avoid. Your doctor or nurse might also prescribe you new medicines to keep you from having another kidney stone.

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