What are the most common side effects of kidney stones treatments?
The side effects of kidney stone treatments depend on the size, type, and location of your kidney stone, as well as the type of treatment you have.
Your doctor will discuss with you any side effects and the risks and complications of each treatment type available to treat your kidney stone(s) when you are considering your options. This information will be specific to your individual circumstances and the exact medicine, procedure, or surgery being offered to you.
The below sections are for information purposes and provide examples of side effects that may be caused by some medicines and procedures/operations for treating kidney stones.
Side-effects of medicines
Medical expulsive therapy and dissolving medicines can cause dizziness or feeling light-headed, sinus congestion, or a runny nose. Dissolving medicines can also cause temporary changes in male ejaculation.
If you have a high temperature or are experiencing chills, are in a great deal of pain, cannot tolerate food or liquids, and have a large quantity of blood in your urine (or blood clots), you will need to contact your doctor straight away. These symptoms can indicate that you have an infection or that your kidney stones are causing problems that need to be addressed quickly.
Surgical side-effects and complications
Temporary side-effects of medical or surgical procedures to treat kidney stones include:
- A mild burning feeling when urinating for a few days after surgery
- Mild discomfort in the bladder area or kidney area when urinating
- Small amounts of blood in the urine for a few days
- The need to urinate more frequently or urgently
- Temporary discomfort or pain resulting from surgical tools being inserted into the urinary system
- Pain, bleeding, and frequent urge to urinate if a stent has been placed.
Complications arising from medical procedures and surgery include:
- A urinary infection
- Sepsis – a severe infection that can be extremely serious
- Damage to the kidney or ureter during the procedure or surgery
- Scarring or tightening of the ureter
- Bleeding during surgery
- A blocked ureter
- Failure of the procedure to remove all of the kidney stone(s)
- The need for repeat surgery if there are multiple stones or a single kidney stone is too large to remove in a single surgery
- recurrence of kidney stones
In rare cases, some people develop symptoms that require them to return to hospital after they have had a procedure or operation. These symptoms include:
- A fever above 38.5 degrees
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
- A serious burning sensation when urinating
- Inability to urinate
- Large amounts of blood in your urine, which do not go away with rest or hydration
- Prolonged blood in the urine, lasting more than 3 days
- Continuing to have severe pain in your kidney, back, or side, despite taking painkillers
- Inflammation, pus, or leaking around any surgical site.
If an infection is suspected, your doctor will give you antibiotics to treat it. Severe infections can require you to return to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics (given via a needle in your arm so that they can get into your bloodstream more quickly).
You can increase your likelihood of having a good recovery following a medical or surgical procedure by doing the following:
- Drinking at least 1.5 litres of water (in small quantities) throughout each day to help with good urine flow, to flush out small kidney stone fragments and to prevent further kidney stones
- Avoiding having sex for the first week after a procedure or surgery to avoid getting a urinary tract infection
- Eating more vegetables, fibre and less meat to help with having softer stools – not straining on the toilet will help the internal healing process
- Following your doctor’s instructions for driving, rest and physical activities after a procedure or surgery
- Taking only gentle exercise for the first week after a procedure or surgery to recover and heal and making sure that you get plenty of sleep