What You Need to Know

  • What is a kidney stone?
  • What causes kidney stones?
  • What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
  • How are kidney stones treated?
  • How are kidney stones prevented?
  • Eating, diet, and nutrition
  • Where can I get more information about kidney stones?

Do you know what makes someone more likely to get a kidney stone?

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in a kidney when high levels of certain substances are present in the urine. These substances are normally found in the urine and do not cause problems at lower levels.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones are caused by high levels of calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus in the urine. Some foods may cause kidney stones in certain people. You may be more likely to get a kidney stone if you have

  • a condition that affects levels of substances in your urine that can cause stones to form
  • a family history of kidney stones
  • repeating, or recurrent, urinary tract infections
  • blockage of your urinary tract
  • digestive problems

You may also be more likely to get a kidney stone if you don’t drink enough liquids or if you take certain medicines.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

You may have a kidney stone if you

  • have pain while urinating
  • see blood in your urine
  • feel a sharp pain in your back or lower abdomen—the area between your chest and hips

The pain may last for a short or long time. You may have nausea and vomiting with the pain.

If you have a small stone that passes on its own easily, you may not have symptoms at all.

How are kidney stones treated?

What the kidney stones are made of, along with their size, affects treatment. Kidney stones may be treated by your regular doctor or by a urologist—a doctor who specializes in the urinary tract. Treatments may include

  • taking pain medicine
  • drinking lots of liquids to help move the stone along
  • having the stone removed or broken into small pieces by a urologist

How are kidney stones prevented?

You can make changes in your eating, diet, and nutrition and take medicines to prevent future kidney stones.

Eating, diet, and nutrition

You can help prevent kidney stones by making changes in how much you consume of the following:

  • liquids
  • sodium
  • animal protein
  • calcium
  • oxalate

Drinking enough liquids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. You should drink 2 to 3 liters of liquid a day.

Medicines

Your doctor may prescribe medicines based on the type of kidney stone you had and any health problems you have that make you more likely to form a stone.