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The Symptoms of Kidney Stones

The Symptoms of Kidney Stones

You’re dealing with some strange, excessive pain in your back. There might be some nausea or even vomiting. You also have the frustrating urge to urinate but hardly anything comes out when you do. Sound familiar at all? These are some of the signs and symptoms of kidney stones.

What are Kidney Stones?

Roughly 1 out of every 10 Americans will experience kidney stones at some point in their lives. If you haven’t suffered yourself, you likely know someone who has. But have you ever wondered what exactly a kidney stone is?

A kidney stone is a hard object, as its name suggests, that is made up of chemicals in your urine. When there isn’t enough water in your body to handle the waste in your urine, stones form. Then these hard, jagged stones begin to join forces with other chemicals and minerals, becoming larger. Eventually, the following symptoms begin to rear their ugly heads:

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

While you may not experience all of these symptoms, you’ll very likely experience at least one (pain!). And when you do, it’s worth a call to your urologist. More severe symptoms may indicate a need for an ER visit. We’ll discuss those, too.

Pain in the back, side, or stomach

There is very little in life that is more painful than kidney stones. In fact, many would agree that it’s the worst pain imaginable, even giving childbirth a run for its money.

The pain is the result of a kidney stone trying to make its way through the ureter. The ureter is not forgiving and will even clamp down on the stone, sending waves of excruciating pain through your back or side. The location of the pain will change as the stone moves.

Unfortunately, this pain typically comes on very suddenly. As the ureter attempts to push the stone out, the pain will come and go. The pain doesn’t depend on the size of the stone, either. While a larger stone has the potential to cause more pain, even the smaller spiked crystals can cause pure misery.

Strong urge to urinate

This urgent need to urinate is a sign that the stone has moved into the lower part of your urinary tract. It’s wreaking havoc all the way down.

You may find yourself suddenly needing to rush to the restroom. Or, if it isn’t urgent, it’s constant. You’ll spend much more time in the bathroom than you’ve ever had the desire to do.

Burning urination

When the stone has nearly made it to the bladder, you’ll probably start feeling burning or a sharp pain when you urinate. You may also notice that the urine is darker than normal which could mean there is blood in the urine. Blood in the urine is a serious symptom that needs immediate attention.

At this point, if you haven’t discovered you have kidney stones, it’s easy to think you might have a urinary tract infection. This, along with the urge to urinate, is a symptom of a UTI as well. Visit your urologist to find out if you’re suffering from kidney stones, a urinary tract infection, or possibly both.

Nausea and vomiting

As if the stones aren’t causing enough problems, they can also trigger nausea and vomiting. This happens because of the nerves that the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract share. As the stone works its way out, it can upset the nerves that upset your stomach.

For some, just the pain alone can cause nausea and vomiting.


A fever of 100.4° or more is a sign that an infection is present. If you’ve been pushing through all the other symptoms without a visit to the doctor, now is the time. A fever that accompanies pain is a very serious symptom that needs immediate attention.

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