When to Go to the ER for Kidney Stones

Do Kidney Stones Mean a Trip to the ER? What You Should Know

(AscendHealthy.com) – Passing kidney stones is extremely painful to the extent that women who have been through childbirth think this experience is worse. The stones differ in size, with the pain correlating to size. But the good news is once they are out, the ordeal is over. Although sometimes one may require surgery, painkillers are often sufficient. Knowing your symptoms and severity will help you decide if you need to visit the ER.

What Is a Kidney Stone?

A kidney stone can be tiny, like a grain of sand, or as huge as a golf ball. The kidney forms a funnel whose exit point is where urine comes out. If salts or minerals such as calcium, urate, phosphate, oxalate, xanthine, etc., become too concentrated, they form a hard mass. These chemicals are by-products of various foods we eat.

It is only by examining the stone that a doctor determines the type. There are four major types: calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine. The possible causes of kidney stones are dietary excesses, preexisting conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and genetics. Also, dehydration as a result of not taking enough water, especially for people working outside in the heat.

A kidney stone may remain in the kidney for a long time without symptoms. Often, kidney stones will pass without damage, and you may not even notice. If it causes a blockage, it may lead to urine backup, which may cause swelling and pain. Also, one risks infection and other complications in such a situation. Visit a doctor at the first signs of trouble for treatment.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Although most agree that kidney stones are painful to pass, the intensity depends on the individual threshold. If you experience the following symptoms, it may be a sign of kidney stones.


It may be extreme or a mild aching. Intense pain results from obstruction or kidney stones passing. Often, it is not continuous but sporadic and fluctuates in intensity. It is felt on one side of the body below the rib cage as it is rare for kidney stones to occur on both kidneys at once. The pain may also be felt on the lower back, groin, or lower abdomen.

Nausea and Vomiting

Since the pain can be excruciating, it may cause one to experience nausea, and one may even puke.

Problem With Urine Flow

Depending on where the kidney stone currently is, one may feel pain or a burning sensation when peeing, be unable to empty the bladder, or have a frequent urgent need to pee.

Blood in Urine

When urine turns pink, the cause may be a drop of blood, but it is alarming regardless of the situation. Although it can also result from eating foods such as beetroot and rhubarb, kidney stones can cause pink, brown, or blood-stained pee.

Foul-smelling or Cloudy Pee

Naturally concentrated pee, even in normal circumstances, smells foul. One may observe cloudy and stinky urine if an infection occurs due to kidney stones.

Fever and Chills

If one has a fever above 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit and chills or shivers, it indicates an infection. Urgent medical attention is needed.

When To Go to the ER

Even though the pain comes and goes, do not wait to pass a stone to be sure if you have kidney stones. It may not pass. The above signs may also indicate other more severe conditions, which is why one needs to see a doctor.

But if the symptoms are severe and worsening or one has had them for a long time, you need to visit the ER immediately. Also, if you have had them before or someone in your family has, visit the emergency room. Although kidney stones often do not require medical intervention, serious complications can arise and seeking medical treatment is alway safest.

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