What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are quite common, and they aren’t at all comfortable to experience, to say the least. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in 10 Americans will get a kidney stone each year.

Although kidney stones are common, do you know what they actually are? If not—or even if you do—read on as our AFC Urgent Care Athens, TN team provides some helpful info on this common issue.

What Is a Kidney Stone?

A kidney stone is a hard deposit made up of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

Kidney stones can be caused by a variety of things, like a poor diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications. Most often, though, kidney stones form when urine becomes concentrated, which allows minerals to crystallize and stick together. If you experience the symptoms we’ve listed below, you likely are dealing with a kidney stone.

Common Kidney Stone Symptoms

  • Severe, sharp pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating

Can Kidney Stones Be Treated?

Yes, they can, but kidney stone treatment doesn’t always look the same. Some kidney stones are smaller than others, which means that surgery or medical procedures won’t usually be necessary to get rid of them.

Large kidney stones, though, can be a different story. If they are too large for you to pass on your own, they can cause bleeding, kidney damage or ongoing urinary tract infections. In this case, more extensive treatment like surgery or a scope to remove the stones may be necessary. However, this isn’t as common, and we’ve listed the most common ways to treat kidney stones below.

Common Kidney Stone Treatments

  • Water. Most kidney stones are small and will eventually pass through your urinary system, so drinking lots of water is the best way to flush them out sooner rather than later. Drinking fluids will dilute urine and give you the best chance at passing a kidney stone in a timely manner.
  • Pain relievers. Passing kidney stones doesn’t feel good. To relieve pain, OTC medicines like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can be helpful.
  • Medical therapy. In some cases, your doctor may give you a medication called an alpha blocker to help pass your kidney stone. This type of medication relaxes the muscles in your ureter, which will help you pass the kidney stone more quickly and with less pain.

Have other questions about kidney stones? We can provide the answers you’re looking for! Don’t hesitate to reach out to our AFC team today.