Kidney Stones: Early Symptoms You Must Not Ignore

Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi or nephrolith, are the most common urinary system health problem. 

Yearly, in the US only, there are around 600,000 cases of kidney stones. These stones are hard mineral fragments that are created in the kidneys. Sometimes, they’re tiny and easily get out of the body through urine.

However, larger stones may require medical assistance to be dissolved or broken down. If you have any kidney stone symptoms, it’s important to look for medical attention. A surgical emergency is kidney stones with a fever or a UTI.

When addressed early on, kidney stones don’t cause serious complications; however, if not treated, they can be severe!

Kidney Stones Explained

These hard collections of minerals and salt usually contain uric acid or calcium. They form inside the kidneys but can travel elsewhere in the urinary tract.

The stones vary in their size. Some are smaller than a fraction of an inch. Others can be several inches across. In severe cases, the stone can take up the whole kidney.

When too many of some minerals in the body gather in the urine, kidney stones begin to form. Improper hydration will cause more concentration in the urine with higher amounts of minerals. 

The higher the mineral levels, the bigger the likelihood of the kidney stone forming. 

The smaller stones that stay in the kidneys don’t usually cause symptoms. You may not notice anything is wrong until the stone enters the ureter.

If it’s small enough, it will go from the bladder to the urethra and get out of the body through the urine. The smaller the stones, the faster and easier will they exit. 

Usually, it takes between 31 and 45 days for most stones to pass naturally. If it doesn’t pass in this period of time, seek medical attention to prevent the stone from increasing your risk of kidney damage and other issues. 

The Symptoms of Kidney Stones Explained

If the stones are small, you may not experience any symptoms. But, if it’s bigger, the likelihood of the following symptoms increases:

  1. Pain in the belly, back, or side

The worst type of pain you can imagine is kidney stone pain. People who’ve had kidney stones compare the pain to childbirth or being stabbed with a knife. 

The pain begins when the stone moves into the narrow ureter, causing a blockage and pressure in the kidneys. 

This pressure triggers the nerve fibers which transmit pain signals to the brain. 

The pain comes suddenly and as the stone moves, the pain’s location and intensity change. 

The pain comes and goes in waves and each wave worsens by the contraction of the ureter as it’s trying to remove it.

  1. Burning and painful urination

When the stone goes into the area between the bladder and ureter, the sufferer may begin to experience pain during urination. 

This pain may be burning and sharp and sometimes, people mistake it for a UTI.

  1. Bloody urine

This symptom, also known as hematuria, causes the blood to be pink, red, or brown. Doctors can test the urine to check for blood if it’s not visible to the naked eye. 

  1. An urgent need to go

Having to go to the bathroom more often or more urgently is a symptom of the stone moving into the lower part of the urinary tract. 

You will find yourself running to the toilet or having to pee more often, both during the day and at night.

  1. Passing a small amount

Bigger kidney stones sometimes get stuck in the ureter. 

This blockage reduces or stops the urine flow. Urinating a bit each time you go to the bathroom could be a sign. The inability to pee at all is a medical emergency. 

  1. Fever and chills

These symptoms indicate a kidney infection or a urinary tract infection, which is a serious kidney stone complication. The fever usually goes over 100.4 degrees F. 

  1. Nausea and vomiting

Kidney stone sufferers often struggle with nausea and vomiting. This is due to the shared nerves between our kidneys and GI tract. 

The stone triggers the nerves in the tract and causes an upset belly. The body’s response to the severe pain manifests through vomiting and nausea.