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Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are a common but painful health concern, affecting roughly 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States. Kidney stones are small, hard masses made of crystals. They occur when high levels of calcium, oxalate and phosphorous are in your urine. Kidney stones vary in shape and size, and some can pass through your urinary tract without causing too much pain. Others cause serious health problems. If a kidney stone gets stuck in your urinary tract, it can block urine flow and cause severe pain. If this happens, the urologists at MultiCare can help find the treatment and solutions for you.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Some common symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Abdominal, back or groin pain
  • Bad-smelling or cloudy urine
  • Blood in the urine that is pink, red or brown
  • Constantly needing to use the bathroom
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Pain while using the bathroom
  • Vomiting

Risk Factors for Kidney Stones

If your parents or siblings have had kidney stones, you are more likely to get them as well. Men are more likely to get kidney stones than women.

The main risk factors for kidney stones are not drinking enough water or using the bathroom enough. If you make less than one liter of urine per day, you are more likely to develop kidney stones.

Types of Kidney Stones

There are different types of kidney stones dependent on the minerals in your urine. Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones, and they occur most often in young men.

Uric acid stones are also more common in men, and they can occur with chemotherapy or gout.

Sometimes, calcium combines with other minerals, such as oxalate, to create a different type of kidney stone. Oxalate is present in some foods and supplements, and small intestine diseases can also increase your risk of oxalate stones.

Struvite stones are most commonly found in men and women who have repeated urinary tract infections. These stones can become large and cause health problems if left untreated.

Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

Your provider with start with a physical exam; let him or her know if your kidney stones are causing you back or stomach pain. Your provider may perform a blood test to check your levels of electrolytes, phosphorus or calcium. They may also take a urine sample to look for crystals or red blood cells in the urine. You may also have imaging tests, such as X-rays or an ultrasound, to help your provider see the stone or blockage.

Treatment and Follow-up Care for Kidney Stones

MultiCare offers the following types of treatment for kidney stones:

  • Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, which uses high-energy ultrasound waves to break up the kidney stone into smaller, more passable pieces.
  • Laser lithotripsy, which works similar to extracorporeal shockwave in that it breaks kidney stones into smaller pieces. This procedure uses a minimally invasive laser to perform the treatment.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, which creates a tract to help evacuate large kidney stones through an incision in the back.

Kidney stones often come back after treatment, but you can reduce your risk of getting them again by drinking six to eight glasses of water per day. You may also require medication to help prevent kidney stones from forming.

Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact one of our convenient South Sound locations or find a provider near you.

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