Kidney stones happen when minerals form crystals inside the kidneys.
Then they get bigger and become kidney stones. Kidney stones can move into the urinary
tract. There, they can cause problems like pain and blood in the urine (pee). Some
stones also can block the flow of pee.
Most kidney stones pass out of the body without causing any damage. Pain medicine
and plenty of fluids help most people with kidney stones get better.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Usually, kidney stones don't cause symptoms until they move around in the kidney
or pass into the ureter (the muscular tube that connects the kidney to the bladder).
Small stones can pass out of the body with little or no pain.
Larger stones in the urinary system may get stuck and cause symptoms like:
pain, which usually:
starts in the side or back
spreads to the lower belly and groin as the stones move through the urinary tract
Sometimes, a stone that's too big to move can create a backup of pee. This can
make one or both kidneys swell, causing pain in the side and back. If it's not treated,
it may cause long-term kidney damage.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Most teens who get kidney stones have a health condition that increases their risk
for them. These include:
special diets, like a ketogenic diet that is sometimes used to prevent seizures
Other things that can make a kidney stone more likely are:
not drinking enough water
eating too much salt
not having enough citric acid (the acid in citrus fruits such as oranges) in the
having too much calcium in the urine
Kidney stones mostly affect adults. But kids and teens can get them.
Some types of kidney stones run in families, so having a relative with kidney stones
can make a person more likely to get them. Teens who have had kidney stones before
are more likely to get them again.
imaging tests, such as ultrasounds, X-rays, or CT scans. These can show a stone's
exact size and location. This helps doctors decide on the best treatment.
How Are Kidney Stones Treated?
Treatment depends on the type of kidney stone and its size. Some people only need
to drink a lot of water and take pain medicines to pass a kidney stone. Those with
larger stones may need surgery or other treatments to help remove the stones.
There are different types of stones. A stone that passes in pee and is caught in
a strainer can be tested to see what type it is. Knowing that can help doctors find
the cause and offer advice how to treat it and prevent other stones.
To help pass a small stone, drink plenty of water and take medicine to ease the
pain. Often, over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are enough.
But sometimes, doctors prescribe pain medicine.
The doctor might ask you to strain your pee for a few days to collect the kidney
stones. Examining them can help the doctor decide if you need more treatment.
Teens whose kidney stones block the urinary tract or cause severe pain or dehydration
may need care in a hospital. They might get intravenous (IV) fluids and pain medicine
to help the stones pass and treat dehydration.
Large stones rarely pass on their own. To get rid of large stones and stones that
are damaging the kidneys, doctors can do a procedure to break up the stone. This lets
the smaller pieces pass on their own or be removed with a scope or surgery.
Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented?
It's not always possible to prevent some types of kidney stones.
But anyone who's had kidney stones should:
Drink a lot of liquids (water is best) throughout the day. Avoid dark sodas, soft
drinks, and sports drinks. If their pee is almost clear, that's a sign they're drinking
enough. Ask your doctor how much you should drink.
Limit the salt and protein in their diet.
If dietary changes don't prevent kidney stones, medicines can help. Depending on
the type of kidney stone you had, the doctor can prescribe treatments or medicines
to lower the levels of crystal-forming substances in the pee.
Doctors will keep an eye on teens who have had kidney stones and try to prevent
new ones. The doctor might have you use a 24-hour urine collection test. This measures
the volume of pee within a 24-hour period and checks what's in it.
Kidney stones aren't usually a worry for most teens, though it's always a good
idea to eat healthy foods and drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration.