Anyone who has ever experienced the pain associated with kidney stones knows how important it can be to find medical attention.
The kidneys filter out fluids and waste from the body, producing urine. Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys. There can be many causes of this condition, which affects some10% of Americans.
These stones can form in any part of your urinary tract—from your kidney to your bladder. When the urine becomes concentrated, stones often join together, as the minerals crystallize. If a stone, even a small one, blocks the flow of urine, you may experience excruciating pain.
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What are the symptoms of kidney stones? Below are common ones:
- Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
- Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen, groin and buttocks
- Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
- Pain in the genital area as the stone moves
- Pain on urination
- Pink, red or brown urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent need to urinate
- Urinating more often than usual
- Fever and chills if an infection is present
Diagnosis and Treatment
Although passing kidney stones can be quite painful, they usually cause no permanent damage. However, extremely painful stones do require treatment.
Typically, the best way to diagnose kidney stones and identify their exact size, number and location is by CT scan.
Larger stones, stones that are causing damage to the kidneys, or stones that do not pass on their own usually respond well to non-surgical treatments such as Ureteroscopy and Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy.
To prevent the reoccurrence of stones, we may recommend several lifestyle changes or medication. You may reduce your risk of kidney stones if you:
- Drink water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing about 2.6 quarts (2.5 liters) of urine a day.
- Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalate—too much oxalate may cause kidney stones.
- Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein.
- Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements.