Kidney stones are crystallized formations that develop in the kidneys and can cause excruciating pain. These stones have the potential to obstruct urine flow and, in severe cases, may lead to renal failure. The most frequently occurring type of kidney stone is created when calcium and oxalate combine in concentrated urine. Another less common variety, made up of uric acid, is more prevalent in men than in women. In many instances, the stones are small enough to pass unnoticed through the ureter – the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder. However, occasionally, larger stones can become stuck, necessitating medical intervention.
Intense Lower Back Pain Near the Ribcage
Kidney stones typically manifest as a persistent ache in one side of the lower back, with the pain often radiating around the side of the pelvis and down towards the groin. When a stone becomes lodged, it can block the flow of urine, causing pressure to build up on the ureter walls. This can lead to potentially severe discomfort that may persist anywhere from a few minutes to several days, often necessitating medical treatment.
Persistent, Painful Urination
One of the first red flags for kidney stones is an intense and persistent need to urinate, regardless of how much fluid you’ve consumed. This can lead to a low urine output, even though you may feel a strong urge to go. As the lodged stone is pushed through the ureter, urination can become painful due to increased pressure. This often results in a burning sensation during urination, with discomfort ranging from mild to severe.
Discomfort When Sitting Down
Kidney stones can cause significant discomfort during prolonged periods of sitting, lying down, or walking, as certain positions place extra pressure on the ureters. Consequently, individuals suffering from kidney stones may struggle to sleep at night and need to constantly shift their position in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.
Chills and Fever
In some instances, smaller kidney stones may not cause significant pain. However, their sharp, jagged edges can create minor abrasions on the inner walls of the ureter or urethra, increasing the risk of infection. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) often result in fever and chills, which may necessitate medical treatment.
Nausea and Vomiting
Kidney stones can cause intense pain, often leading to severe nausea, cramping, and vomiting. This discomfort can make it difficult to eat, potentially resulting in dehydration. In more serious cases, hospitalization may be necessary to address these symptoms.
Many individuals who have kidney stones may experience a change in the color of their urine. This can occur when the passing of a kidney stone causes scrapes or cuts along the inner wall of the ureter, leading to bleeding that mixes with the urine and alters its color. As a result, urine may appear in various shades, from normal to pink, red, or even dark brown. The presence of blood in the urine is medically referred to as hematuria.
Kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste, impurities, and microbes from the bloodstream, which are then expelled from the body through urination. However, kidney stones can lead to a buildup of bacteria, causing infection and an unpleasant smell. Additionally, when urine becomes more concentrated, as is common in individuals with kidney stones, it can emit a foul odor. Alongside this unpleasant smell, the urine may also appear cloudy, indicating potential health concerns.
Kidney swelling is a serious potential symptom of kidney stones. When a stone is large enough, it can completely obstruct urine flow, leading to fluid backup. This results in the swelling of both the kidney and the ureter—the tube responsible for carrying urine out of the body. If left untreated, a swollen kidney can lead to septic shock, which is an extremely dangerous condition.
Frequent night sweats can be a telltale sign of kidney stones. When pain arises due to a kidney stone, the production of specific hormones increases, affecting functions like heart rate and blood pressure. Consequently, these hormones can also cause night sweats. Individuals with kidney stones must be vigilant about staying hydrated, as night sweats can reduce the body’s urine production. Adequate urine production is crucial for eliminating kidney stones, so maintaining proper hydration is essential for those affected.
Weakness and Confusion
Individuals suffering from kidney stones may experience fatigue and confusion as a result of their condition. These symptoms can arise when slow-moving stones take several days to pass, leading to prolonged periods of poor sleep and extreme exhaustion. Additionally, infections that develop behind the stone can cause tiredness and fatigue, often accompanied by fever. Dehydration due to sweating and vomiting may also contribute to confusion and weakness. It is crucial for those with kidney stones to maintain proper hydration and seek medical care to address these symptoms effectively.