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An Educational Resource for Sufferers with Kidney Stones
by Roger Baxter
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Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones may be formed, grow in size, and stay immobile inside the kidney for years without any warning pain or other indicators. Most people don't know they are at risk for forming kidney stones until one or more have been formed. A few people have and pass small kidney stones without experiencing pain, but that is not the usual case. More often the kidney stone makes itself dramatically known when it begins to move through the urinary tract.

A kidney stone attack has classic symptoms: the most agonizing pain in the lower back just below the ribs spreading around to the front of the abdomen and often extending into the groin area. The pain may come in waves as the stone tries to move through the tube between the kidney and the bladder (the ureter). Sometimes there will be blood in the urine. Often there is nausea, fever and chills, and vomiting. The abdomen or lower back may be painful to touch.

The severity of the pain is no indicator of the size of the passing kidney stone. This pain is often described as the worst pain a person has ever suffered even by women who have given birth. It is reported to be more painful than gun shots, surgery, broken bones, or even burns. The pain is not a result of the stone moving or tearing the ureter as a sufferer might suspect. Rather, the pain is caused by the dilating or stretching of the urinary tract being blocked by the stone when it gets stuck in the ureter.

More than one million people in the United States are hospitalized each year because of kidney stone attacks. A suffer should call their doctor or go to the hospital emergency room if they experience severe or persistent bleeding, if the pain continues to be severe, unrelenting and persistent, if fever and chills or nausea and vomiting develop, or if urine smells especially bad or looks cloudy.

During a kidney stone attack the sufferer should drink large amounts of water (two to three quarts per day). Stay active. Do not go to bed (except for normal sleep periods). Physical activity may actually assist passage of the kidney stones.

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Latest update October 2, 2018

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