Kidney Stones

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A kidney stone can be present in the urinary tract for years without causing symptoms. However, if symptoms develop, the most common is the sudden onset of pain. The pain can be intense and debilitating, often rated as a 10 on a 10-point pain scale.

Intense pain develops when the stone moves, blocks the passage of urine, or is associated with an infection. The intensity of the pain may fluctuate as the stone repositions but is generally confined to one side of the body. The pain usually starts on one side just below the edge of the ribs and can radiate into the lower abdomen, groin, or genital area. Changing position and urinating usually do not relieve the pain.

Other, less common symptoms include:

  • Urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation with urination
  • Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills

Occasionally, kidney stones completely block the urinary tract; this creates intense pain. If total blockage coincides with a urinary tract infection, the situation is a medical emergency due to the risk of infection spreading throughout the body. If fever or chills accompanied by intense pain develop, especially for those with diabetes, seek medical attention immediately.

Last reviewed on 10/13/09

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