Early symptoms of kidney stones

Symptoms kidney stones

The early symptoms of kidney stones may not be felt until the stone moves around within the kidney or it passes into the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder – known as the ureter. The symptoms also depend on the size of the stone – which is a solid piece of material that forms when calcium, oxalate, phosphorus or other substance in the urine become highly concentrated –; a small one may pass through the urinary tract on its own without causing any disturbances. Larger stones, on the other hand, may lodge itself in the urinary tract and block urine flow, leading to severe symptoms. Their size ranges from grain of sand to pear, though some reach golf ball dimensions.

The signs of a kidney stone include:

·         Intense pain in the side and back, below the ribs.

·         Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin.

·         Waves of pain that vary in severity.

·         Pain while urinating.

·         Cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

·         Abnormal urine color (pink, red, or brown).

·         Nausea.

·         Vomiting.

·         Constant urge to urinate.

·         Urinating more frequently than usual.

·         Fever and chills (if an infection is present).

·         Blood in urine.

·         Chills.

The pain caused by a kidney stone may come and go suddenly as the stone moves through the urinary tract. Kidney stones are one of the most commonly seen urinary tract disorders, prompting more than one million people in the United States to visit their doctors. In fact, anyone can get a kidney stone, although you may be at a higher risk if you:

Have a family of personal history of kidney stones.

·         Are aged 40 or older.

·         Are a man.

·         Don’t get enough fluids.

·         Eat too much protein, sodium, or sugar.

·         Are overweight.

·         Have had digestive surgery (gastric bypass) or digestive diseases (inflammatory bowel disease or diarrhea).

Other medical conditions as well as medications also increase the risk of developing kidney stones.


Kidney stone risk factors



·         Hypercalciuria

·         Cystic kidney diseases

·         Hyperparathyroidism

·         Renal tubular acidosis

·         Cystinuria

·         Hyperoxaluria

·         Hyperruricosuria

·         Gout

·         Blockage of the urinary tract

·         Chronic inflammation of the bowel

·         Diuretics

·         Calcium-based antacids

·         Indinavir

·         Topiramate


There are a few diagnostic tests in case the early symptoms of kidney stones make you and your doctor suspicious, including:

·         Blood tests

May show too much calcium or uric in the blood and reveal biochemical problems that can cause kidney stones.

·         Urine tests

May show too many stone-forming minerals or too few stone-preventing substances being excreted.

·         Abdominal x-ray

May show the location of stones in the kidney or in the urinary tract.

·         CT scan

May show both the location of kidney stones and the conditions that caused them.

·         Analysis of passed stones

Your urine may be strained so a stone can be saved and tested to reveal the makeup of the stone and determine the cause and create a plan to prevent future stones.


The analysis of a passed stone can also help determine the type of stones that are forming in a patient’s kidney.

Types of kidney stones


The most common type, it occurs in two different forms: oxalates and phosphates, caused by high calcium and high oxalate excretion and high urine calcium and alkaline urine respectively.

Uric acid

Takes place when the urine is persistently acidic in people who don’t get enough or lose too much fluid, eat a high-protein diet, or have gout.


Are a result of kidney infection. Struvite stones can grow very large very quickly with few signs.


Caused by a hereditary condition that leads to the formation of crystals that cluster into stones.


Rarer types of stones are also possible.

Kidney stones can be prevented with lifestyle changes and medications.

·         Nutritional changes

-        Drinking 2-3 liters of fluid every day.

-        Reducing salt, sodium and animal protein (meat, eggs, fish).

-        Limiting oxalate-rich foods (rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate, soy products).

-        Getting calcium from food.

-        Using calcium supplements (ask your doctor first).

·         Medications

-        Allopurinol

-        Diuretics

-        Potassium citrate

-        Mercaptopropionyl glycine

-        Antibiotics

Small stones require minimal treatment, consisting of drinking water to flush them out, pain relievers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen sodium) to alleviate mild discomfort, or alpha blockers to relax muscles in the ureter and allow the stone to pass more smoothly. Stones too large to pass or that cause bleeding, kidney damage or ongoing urinary tract infections call for more complex approaches, such as:

·         Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to crush the stones into smaller pieces that can pass through the urinary tract.

·         Percutaneous nephrolithotomy to remove large stones from the kidney.

·         Ureteroscopy  to remove smaller stones.

·         Parathyroid gland surgery to remove benign tumors from the parathyroid glands.

Related Read:

How to pass kidney stones less painfully?