What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are made of
salts and minerals in the urine that stick together to form small "pebbles."
They can be as small as grains of sand or as large as golf balls. They may stay
kidneys or travel out of your body through the
urinary tract . The urinary tract is the system that makes urine and carries it
out of your body. It is made up of the kidneys, the tubes that connect the
kidneys to the bladder (the
ureters), the bladder, and the tube that leads from
the bladder out of the body (the
When a stone travels through a
ureter, it may cause no pain. Or it may cause great pain and other
See pictures of a
kidney stone and a
stone traveling through a ureter .
Kidney stones form when
a change occurs in the normal balance of water, salts, minerals, and other
things found in urine. The most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking
enough water. Try to drink enough water, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water (about 8 to 10
glasses a day). Some people are more likely to get kidney stones
because of a medical condition, such as gout.
may also be an inherited disease. If other people in your family have had
kidney stones, you may have them too.
What are the symptoms?
Kidney stones often cause
no pain while they are in the kidneys, but they can cause sudden, severe pain
as they travel from the kidneys to the bladder.
Call a doctor
right away if you think you have kidney stones. Watch for severe pain in your
side, belly, or groin or for urine that looks pink or red. You may also feel
sick to your stomach (nausea) and may vomit.
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
You may first
find out that you have kidney stones when you see your doctor or go to an
emergency room with pain in your belly or side. Your doctor will ask you
questions about your pain and lifestyle. He or she will examine you and may do
imaging tests such as
a CT scan or an ultrasound to look at your kidneys and urinary tract.
You may need more tests if you have more than one stone or have
a family history of stones. To find out the cause of your kidney stones, your
doctor may order a blood test and ask you to collect your urine for 24 hours.
This can help your doctor find out if you are likely to have more stones in the
Kidney stones may not cause any pain. If this is the case,
you may learn you have them when your doctor finds them during a test for
How are they treated?