Urology Kidney Stone

Kidney Stones

Living with Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are common. They can also be painful. When kidney stones interfere with your daily life, you need medical attention. The expert urologists at Emory Healthcare can give you the compassionate care you need to relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

We’re ready to work with you and find the best treatment option for your needs.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are hard masses that develop in your urinary tract (the system that moves urine from your kidneys to your bladder). They develop when various minerals, acids and salts form crystals in your urine. Some kidney stones can be as small as a single grain of sand. Others can be pebble-sized or larger.

Kidney Stones

Most small kidney stones don’t cause symptoms. They typically leave your body when you urinate. Larger stones can get trapped in the ureter, the tube that drains urine from your kidney to your bladder. When this happens, your kidney can’t work correctly to remove waste from your body.

Kidney stones are one of the most common urinary tract problems. They affect 12% of males and 5% of females by age 70. They develop most often in people between the ages of 20 and 40. After getting a kidney stone, you have a 50% chance of developing another one within 5 years.

Causes of Kidney Stones

Dehydration is the biggest cause of kidney stones. The electrolytes and salts in your urine form crystals when you don’t drink enough water. The crystals clump together to form stones over time.

Kidney stones are also caused by:

  • Diet heavy in salt or sugar
  • Obesity
  • Weight-loss surgery

Other factors that increase your risk include:

  • Eating meat or protein-heavy foods
  • Family history of kidney stones
  • Intestinal/stomach surgery
  • Medications (calcium-based antacids, diuretics and anti-seizure medication)
  • Taking vitamin D supplements
  • Various medical conditions

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Pain in your side or flank is typically the first sign of a kidney stone. The discomfort happens when a kidney stone gets stuck in your ureter. Smaller stones may not cause additional symptoms. As kidney stones get bigger, symptoms can become more severe.

If you have a large kidney stone, you may also experience:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Stomach pain or ache that lingers
  • Urine that smells bad or is cloudy
  • Vomiting

Keep in mind that nausea and vomiting can come on quickly when your kidney stone moves or shifts.

Diagnosing Kidney Stones

Our urologists will review your medical history and conduct a physical exam to diagnose your kidney stones. They may run urine and blood tests to look for signs of infection. These tests can also determine how well your kidneys are working.

Imaging studies can reveal the location of your kidney stone. Knowing where your kidney stone is helps our urologists determine the best treatment option.

These studies include:

  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • CT scan

Our urologists may recommend a 24-hour urine collection test if you frequently develop kidney stones. This test shows if you have any metabolic problems that need treatment.

Preventing Kidney Stones

Some factors that increase your kidney stone risk are uncontrollable. But changes to your diet may lower your risk. You can help prevent kidney stones by:

  • Drinking more water (more than eight cups a day)
  • Eating calcium-rich foods
  • Eating less animal protein
  • Getting more citric acid, which is found in juices and fruits
  • Limiting your salt and sugar intake

Treatments for Kidney Stones

Why Choose Emory Healthcare

At Emory Urology, we are known for our compassionate, patient-centered approach to delivering high-quality care.Our award-winning doctors and surgeons provide the most innovative treatments and leading-edge procedures. And we are dedicated to developing the next generation of research-based therapies that will improve the quality of life for our patients. We are high-volume providers of treatment for large and complex stones, and we are interested in offering you the best treatment to get you stone-free.

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