Your kidneys are specialized organs that filter your blood. They remove toxins and excessive minerals from your blood, turning this waste into urine. While kidneys usually filter and eliminate mineral buildup effectively, sometimes too much of a certain mineral accumulates, and kidney stones develop.
Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits, and they vary in size, shape, and quantity. Most commonly, they’re made of calcium, uric acid, struvite, or cystine. Very small kidney stones may exit your body without any symptoms. But larger stones can enter your urinary tract, get stuck, and cause intense pain.
At Advanced Urology, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating kidney stones at our offices in Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Culver City, and San Pedro, California. They can be painful, but when they’re treated promptly, they’re less likely to cause lasting complications.
Recognizing the symptoms of kidney stones
About 12% of men and 7% of women in the US will experience kidney stones in their lifetime. They develop due to a combination of diet, lifestyle habits, and genetics.
Most of the time, kidney stones don’t cause symptoms until one moves inside your kidney or enters your ureters. A kidney stone that travels to your ureters may get stuck, and this is typically painful.
Symptoms of kidney stones can include:
- Pain in the side or back
- Pain in the lower abdomen or groin
- Pain or burning sensation with urination
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Pain that moves locations or changes in intensity
Anyone can get kidney stones, but they most commonly affect white men between the ages of 30 and 50. Other factors that increase your risk of kidney stones are not drinking enough water and having a family history of them.
Possible complications of kidney stones
Along with abdominal pain, a few other symptoms could indicate a severe kidney stone. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Intense pain
- Blood in urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever and/or chills
These symptoms may indicate that you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which requires professional care to avoid complications.
Urinary tract infection
Sometimes, a kidney stone can trigger a UTI. A kidney stone that gets stuck in your ureters creates a blockage, so urine can’t reach your bladder or exit your body like it should.
A blockage increases the risk of bacteria getting trapped in your urinary system and multiplying, creating an infection. Symptoms of a UTI can be very similar to symptoms of a kidney stone, and include swelling, pain, and uncomfortable urination.
If a UTI isn’t treated promptly, the infection could spread to your kidneys and create additional health complications. In severe cases, it could lead to loss of kidney function.
Recurring kidney stones
Having one kidney stone increases your risk of getting more. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll have another stone within 5 to 7 years after your first one. The good news is that treatment, along with lifestyle changes, can help reduce your risk of suffering more stones later on.
Kidney stones can be painful, and it’s important to be prepared if you suspect you might have one. Contact our team at Advanced Urology over the phone or request an appointment online now.