What treatments are available for kidney stones?
A kidney stone won’t usually cause symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or passes into your ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder). If a kidney stone blocks the ureters, it can stop the flow of urine, causing the affected kidney to swell and the ureter to spasm, which can be very painful. If this occurs, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Intense pain in your side and back, below the ribs
- Pain that radiates to the groin and lower abdomen
- Pain that comes and goes in severity
- Pain when passing urine
- Urine that is pink, red, brown or cloudy, or smells unpleasant
- Feeling like you need to urinate all the time
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills may mean that you have an infection.
There are several methods for treating kidney stones. Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you and advise which they would recommend for you based on your medical history, the size of the kidney stone(s), and where it is located.
For small kidney stones, it is likely that in the first instance you would be recommended by your doctor to drink plenty of water to try to pass the stones out in your urine. You can take over-the-counter pain medication if you feel discomfort or pain when trying to flush out kidney stones. You can also take an anti-sickness medicine if you feel sick.
‘Watchful waiting’ is another option you may wish to consider if you have small kidney stones. This is when a doctor assesses you over time to see the extent and nature of your specific symptoms before deciding what treatment to recommend.
For larger kidney stones or in cases where kidney stones have become lodged somewhere in the urinary tract, or are causing complications, medicines or surgery are likely to be needed.