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Kidney Stones: Diagnosis and Treatment

Kidney Stones: Diagnosis and Treatment

Individuals with elevated levels of minerals and salts in their urine have a higher risk of kidney stones. Kidney stones start small but may grow larger over time. While some kidney stones remain in the kidney and don’t cause symptoms, some may travel down the ureter and reach the bladder, where it passes along with urine. However, if the stone gets stuck in the ureter, it blocks urine flow from the kidney and starts to cause pain.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stones often cause unmistakable symptoms because a lodged stone will lead to severe or sharp pains across the back and in the side below the ribs. The pain may radiate to the groin and lower abdomen and come in waves. Kidney stones also cause painful urination.

Other kidney stone symptoms may include cloudy, foul-smelling urine, fever, chills, and nausea.

Kidney Stone Causes

While white men between the age of 30 and 50 have the highest risk, anyone can develop a kidney stone.

Several medical conditions may increase the risk of kidney stone formation. These conditions include hypertension, obesity, gout, hypercalciuria, IBS, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Some diuretics, antacids, anti-seizure medication, and antibiotics may also cause kidney stones.

Diagnosing Kidney Stones

Doctors use blood tests when diagnosing kidney stones to check the calcium in uric acid levels in the blood. They may also do urine testing and perform imaging tests to find kidney stones in the urinary tract. CT scans can reveal small stones that abdominal X-rays may miss.

A patient may need to urinate through a strainer to catch one or more kidney stones. The information gained from analyzing the stones assists doctors in determining the cause and creating a prevention plan.

Treating Kidney Stones​

kidney stonesSometimes, all it takes to pass a kidney stone is drinking up to three liters of water daily and taking alpha-blockers. If the stone is too large to pass via urination, a doctor will suggest surgery to remove it. Surgery typically includes shockwave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy. The type of surgery depends on the size and location of the kidney stone.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones

The first line of defense against kidney stones is to stay hydrated by drinking enough water. Sufficient fluids mean sufficient urine output, which helps to dissolve the urine salts that lead to stones. It is also essential to eat calcium-rich foods and cut down on sodium. Once a person has had a stone, they must learn how to prevent kidney stones because they have a 50% chance of developing another stone within 10 years.

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