Symptoms of kidney stones can range from mild to severe, depending on the size of the stone and the obstruction it causes. Small kidney stones usually do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
Many people with very small kidney stones, usually expel them from the body (in the urine), without even noticing.
If, however, stones are large enough to cause obstruction of the urine flow, then they can create quite a bit of discomfort to the patient.
Kidney stones can be as tiny as a spec, which can only be properly seen under a microscope, or as large as (or sometimes larger than) a marble.
Kidney stone symptoms are largely dependent on the size of the stone, its location in the urinary system, and the degree of obstruction it causes.
Typically, kidney stone symptoms only develop after the stone passes into the ureters (tubes joining the kidneys to the bladder) and causes obstruction of urine flow. This is not exclusively the case, though. In some cases, symptoms may begin to manifest even while the stone is still in the kidney. Hematuria (blood in the urine) can be an early symptom of kidney stone, especially if the stone is within the kidney.
Other common symptoms of kidney stones include the following:
Severe pain is one of the major symptoms of kidney stones. If an enlarged kidney stone passes into the ureter, most patients will experience periodic severe cramps or spasmodic pain. Patients may experience pains in the back, in the side, or in the groin area (extending to the inner thighs).
Initially, the pain begins somewhere between the lower ribs and the hip bone. This is an indication that the stone is lodged within the kidney or the ureter. As the stone begins to move closer to the bladder, the pain begins to radiate around the groin and inner thigh area. Women may experience pains in the vulva (external female genitalia), while men may experience pains in the testicles.
Such pain is no doubt extremely uncomfortable and nauseating.
Nausea and vomiting are two other common symptoms of kidney stones. These two symptoms are not only caused by the severe pain, but may also result from a build-up of urine in the urinary system.
Backed-up urine can be dangerous. When urine becomes backed-up in the urinary tract, for an extended period of time, it could cause damage to the kidneys and ureters. Since one of the primary functions of the kidney is to remove toxins and other waste products from the body, this crucial function is disrupted by any obstruction in the urinary tract. This causes toxins and waste products to accumulate in the blood stream... which can then cause nausea and vomiting.
Another common kidney stones symptom include frequent and painful urination. Enlarged kidney stones can cause obstruction of the urinary system and restrict the normal flow or excretion of urine. Urine trickles rather than flows through the urinary system, resulting in the need to urinate often. Blockage of the urinary tract causes urine to back-up in the urinary tract, which results in inflammation and pain during urination.
Blood or pus in the urine is another common kidney stones symptom. Blood in the urine (hematuria) may be an early sign of kidney stones, but this may persist as inflammation sets in and kidney damage or damage of the urinary tract occurs. This is usually accompanied by cloudy or odorous urine.
Another common symptom of kidney stone is fever and chills. This is usually the result of bacteria being trapped in the kidney, which causes infection.
Very often, kidney stones that affect the free flow of urine causes infections. Any obstruction within the urinary tract can cause pressure to build up within the kidney, which can cause kidney damage (leading to kidney failure). Also, as a result of urine stagnation, bacteria tend to remain in the urinary tract much longer than they should. These lingering bacteria can then cause infection within the urinary tract.
Kidney stone symptoms described above usually occur when enlarged kidney stones cause significant blockage of the urinary system. If the stones are very small there may be no symptoms at all. Small kidney stones usually pass out of the body, unnoticed, in the urine. There may be some mild symptoms, if the stone causes partial but not significant blockage of the urinary system.
Once blockage occurs, however, one of the most bothersome symptoms of kidney stones is mild to severe pains. In its most advanced stage, kidney stone is possibly one of the most painful health conditions.
Anyone who may be susceptible to kidney stones should consult their health care provider for specific advice on how to prevent kidney stones. Drinking adequate amounts of fluids (especially water) has been known to not only prevent kidney stones formation, but may also assist in dislodging stones that are stuck in the urinary tract.
Obviously, if you experience moderate to severe kidney stone symptoms you should consult your doctor immediately. Timely diagnosis and treatment will not only minimize the risk of infections and kidney damage, but will also limit the duration and severity of the many associated symptoms of kidney stones.