What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?

With certain ailments, there are the widely known symptoms that often come with them. If you have the flu, for example, you can typically expect to experience body aches, alternating spells of feeling hot and cold, and likely even a raised temperature. And if you have specific allergies, you’ll probably be sneezing, have a scratchy throat, and deal with itchy and watery eyes. But what symptoms are commonplace with kidney stones?

Sometimes, There Are No Symptoms

If the stone is really small, it’s possible that you won’t have any symptoms at all. In this case, it will simply pass and you’ll be none the wiser. For most kidney stone sufferers, this is the best case scenario and one that they could easily deal with. However, unfortunately, the numbers tell us that this usually isn’t the case.

It’s been reported that more than 500,000 people sought out medical care in the emergency room for this condition in 2017 alone. What types of symptoms send them in search of answers…and relief? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Urology Care Foundation, there are many.

Intense Pain

If you feel intense pain in your belly or the side of your back (just below your rib cage, where your kidneys are located), it’s possible that a kidney stone is to blame. Some people have even compared the level of pain associated with passing a stone with the pain that a woman feels when giving birth, highlighting just how bad it can get.

This is why it’s not uncommon for someone with kidney stones to constantly shift positions. The goal is to attempt to relieve the discomfort they feel, particularly if the pain is making it impossible to get some much needed rest.

As the kidney stone moves, you may also notice that your pain moves as well, often traveling more toward your groin area. If you’re a man, this pain may be felt at the tip of your penis. Of course, pain in these areas can occur because of something else entirely, which means that a doctor’s visit may be necessary to rule other conditions out.

Flu-Like Symptoms

Some kidney stone symptoms are consistent with those related to the flu. These include experiencing chills and/or a fever, or feeling nauseous or vomiting. These types of symptoms often present themselves both in response to the elevated pain and as a result of the buildup of toxins in the body since your kidneys aren’t able to do their job efficiently.

In some cases, flu-like symptoms because a urinary tract infection has developed, which isn’t all too uncommon with kidney stones. This makes a doctor’s appointment critical to treating the infection and providing some relief.

Abnormal Urine Color, Flow, and Frequency

Changes to your urinary habits or the color of your urine may also signal that a kidney stone has formed. For instance, if you feel a consistent and intense need to urinate, as if your bladder is completely full and you cannot wait, yet you only release a small amount of urine once in the bathroom, then it’s possible that a stone exists. Additionally, if you notice that you’re urinating more often than you normally do or that you have a burning sensation when you go, then it’s possible you have a stone.

Another sign of kidney stones is if your urine is abnormal in color (such as if it’s cloudy) or if it has red or brown blood in it. This happens when the stone scrapes against the tissues in the urinary tract while trying to work its way from your kidney to your bladder and out of your body. You may even notice that it has a different smell because of the minerals it contains.

Remedying Kidney Stones

The appearance of any of these symptoms could be a sign that you have one or more kidney stones. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, whether you’re experiencing additional issues, and whether you’ve had stones before, your next step may either be to attempt to remedy the stone on your own or seek medical treatment.

Remedying the stones on your own often involves increasing your water intake to flush the stone out, adding acidic foods and beverages to your diet to start to dissolve it, and possibly even taking a supplement to speed up the process. If you’re unable to urinate or have a swollen abdomen—both signs that a blockage has occurred—additional procedures may be necessary to either break the stone into smaller pieces and let it pass or remove it surgically.