There are a few ways doctors can treat kidney stones, but it all depends on their size and location. Most stones will pass, meaning that you'll pee them out. But this can be painful. Larger stones can be broken up into smaller pieces with a device called an Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripter that passes energy waves into the body directly at the stone.
Some people will need multiple zaps to break down the stones - it's possible that the stones can be 1.5cm or larger. Once broken down, the fragments can be peed out. Alternatively, your doctor can put you under anesthesia and run a small telescope into your urinary tract to remove them. Though rare, more invasive procedures can be required to remove particularly pesky stones.
So, how can you determine whether you have kidney stones? Symptoms of this condition can easily be confused with other things like a urinary tract infection or appendicitis. Naturally the treatments are very different so it's important to be aware of the most common kidney stones symptoms.
1. Pain in your back, belly, or side
Pain in these areas may occur because your ureter, the small tube that passes urine from your kidney to your bladder, is blocked with stones and it doesn't feel good. Consequently this can cause severe pain around the kidneys (located in the middle of your back). The pain can radiate to your lower abdomen or thighs.
2. Pain or burning when you pee
This usually occurs when a stone is about to leave your ureter and enter your bladder. The action stimulates your bladder, irritating it and making it feel uncomfortable whenever you feel the need to pass urine.
3. Bloody urine
Just like the inside of your mouth, the lining inside your kidneys and bladder are sensitive. The stone may scratch the tissue or irritate it causing bleeding which may show up in your pee.
4. You only pee a small amount at a time
This happens when the stone passes through the ureter. When this happens it irritates your bladder making you feel like you have to go often, although you don't.
5. Nausea and vomiting
This symptom may indicate that your kidney is obstructed, meaning the ureter is partially or totally blocked, preventing urine from making its way onto your bladder. The nerves to your intestines and kidney are shared, and a kidney obstruction can impact your digestive tract, making you feel nauseous, and possibly vomit.
6. Fever and chills
Having a fever and chill alone isn't a sign of kidney stones. Though if you do suffer from them, alongside other symptoms, it's a sign that you have an infection. Stones can also act as a safe haven for bacteria. This becomes a medical emergency which would need to be treated immediately. If you're experiencing fever and chills along with other tell-tale symptoms of kidney stones, be sure to get to the emergency room straight away. Once the stone is removed, doctors will be able to clear up the infection with antibiotics.