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Understanding Kidney Stones and How Urgent Care Can Help

Understanding Kidney Stones and How Urgent Care Can Help

Sometimes described as the type of pain that most resembles childbirth, kidney stones are excruciating. Kidney stones are solid deposits of mineral buildup that form in the kidneys as tiny stones. They form when your kidneys, which expel liquid waste from the body, aren’t working quickly enough, and the waste solidifies.

Usually, kidney stones are the size of a grain of sand and will eventually exit your body on their own. However, some can grow to the size of a quarter, making it impossible for your body to pass them naturally. In these instances, you will need to have surgery to remove the stones. Because of the pain and panic that kidney stones can cause, it’s important to seek medical help to ensure that the pain isn’t being caused by something else.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones

The first sign of a kidney stone is that you’ll feel a sharp, piercing pain in your stomach. Most times, this pain will radiate to your stomach and originate in the kidneys, which means you’ll also have terrible pain in your sides and lower back. Typically, the pain won’t be constant but will instead come and go periodically.

You will also experience a sharp, burning sensation when you urinate, and your urine will probably have a discolored appearance and a foul smell to it. Certain kidney stones can also make you urinate more often, run a slight fever, and can even cause nausea and vomiting.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are mineral deposits that build up in the kidneys and can travel to any part of your urinary tract, including the ureter and bladder. However, while calcium buildup causes these, it isn’t always clear what causes the calcium to build up. Here are some of the known potential causes:

  • Dehydration from not drinking enough liquids
  • Certain medications such as Crixivan, Cipro, Dilantin, and more
  • Drinking excess amounts of soda or sweet tea
  • Consuming excess amounts of sugar, protein, or sodium
  • Having any type of blockage in your urinary tract or a family history of kidney stones

While anyone can get a kidney stone at any age, white designated males at birth in their thirties and forties are at the highest risk. It’s unclear why this age group of white men is most at risk for kidney stones, only that they simply are. Obese individuals are also at a higher risk of developing kidney stones.

How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed?

Most times, kidney stones are fairly easy to diagnose based on the symptoms alone. There are very few things that cause side, stomach, and lower back pain that’s as sharp and excruciating as a kidney stone.

However, because there’s always the risk of diagnosing and treating the wrong thing, doctors can also perform blood and urine tests to see if you have abnormal amounts of minerals in your system. If they’re still uncertain, an X-ray or an MRI can see if there’s a mineral deposit in your urinary tract or not.

Your doctor might request that you urinate through a strainer and collect your urine until the stone passes. That way, they can test the stone to determine what type it is, if you’re at risk for developing another one, and other important information.

Treatment For Kidney Stones

When kidney stones are small enough, they eventually pass through your urinary system. To speed up this process, your doctor might prescribe diuretics to make you pee more and tell you to up your liquid intake. You might also need pain medications to ease your symptoms of pain and discomfort.

However, some are enormous enough that they won’t fit through your urethra and ureters, which means surgery is the only way to get them out of your body. You can also try extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, which is a treatment that breaks large stones into smaller bits so that you can pee them out.

How Can an Urgent Care Clinic Help?

If you suspect that you have kidney stones and your primary doctor can’t see you immediately, Anderson Walk-In Medical Clinic is here to help. We can perform the tests to determine whether you have a kidney stone and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Once you pass the kidney stone, we can perform lab tests. These tests will help determine the type and cause of the stone. We can also determine if further treatment is required.

References

Kidney stones – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
Kidney stones – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention (clevelandclinic.org)
Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms and treatment options | American Kidney Fund

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