Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important information from Sharp
Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

Stone cold pain

Jan. 27, 2017

Kidney stones

If you or a loved one has ever experienced kidney stones, you know how excruciating they can be. What you may not know is that kidney stones aren't always painful and rarely cause permanent damage if they are properly treated.

"Kidney stones are hard, pebble-like pieces that form in your kidneys when there are high levels of calcium oxalate and phosphorus in your urine," says Dr. James Lin, an internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. "They can be any size, from minute to — in very rare cases — the size of a golf ball."

Small stones will usually pass easily through your urinary tract; however, larger stones can become stuck. When stuck, kidney stones may block the flow of urine, causing severe pain in your back, side, abdomen or groin.

Additional symptoms include:

  • A constant need to urinate
  • Pain while urinating
  • Inability to urinate
  • Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Blood in your urine (which could make the urine red or pink)

  • The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that close to 11 percent of men and 6 percent of women will have kidney stones at least once in their lives. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you are more likely to get them. Furthermore, once you've had kidney stones, you are likely to develop them again.

    You are also at greater risk of kidney stones if you don't drink enough liquids; have chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or gout; are obese; or regularly take diuretics or calcium-based antacids. Excessive physical exercise also increases your risk.

    Small kidney stones can usually pass without treatment; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, can help with pain. Drinking lots of fluids can help move the stones through the urinary tract, although your doctor may need to prescribe a urinary retention medication or an alpha blocker to dilate the ureter and allow the stone to pass more easily.

    Larger kidney stones may require treatment, including ultrasound to break stones into small pieces that can naturally pass, or surgical removal of stones that cannot be broken down using ultrasound.

    According to Dr. Lin, drinking six to eight glasses of water or more every day to dilute urine and flush away stone-forming minerals is the best way to avoid having kidney stones again. Your doctor may also prescribe an appropriate medicine to prevent the development of more kidney stones.

    Additional ways to prevent future kidney stones include the following:

  • Reduce the amount of sodium you consume each day — learn to read nutrition labels and aim for products with 5 percent or less of your percent daily value
  • Limit animal proteins in your diet — cut back on beef, chicken, pork, eggs, fish, milk, cheese and other dairy products — and add more plant-based foods that are high in protein, such as beans, nuts and seeds
  • Get the appropriate amount of calcium in your diet
  • Avoid high-fat, high-sodium processed foods
  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Talk with your doctor about your personal diet and daily liquid consumption. You may be able to prevent future kidney stones by making simple changes in what you eat and drink each day.

    You might also like:

    Choose the doctor who's right for you.

    At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

    All Categories
    Contact Sharp HealthCare
    Call us


    If this is a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 immediately.

    Email us

    Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

    How would you like to be contacted?
    Date of birth

    Find other numbers

    View our phone directory

    What's This?

    These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

    Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

    Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

    Find your Sharp hospital account number

    Find your Sharp hospital account number

    Find your SharpCare account number

    Find your SharpCare account number
    What's GDPR?

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

    We are sorry, but we are unable to process hospital price estimates if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

    To learn more, call us at 858-499-5901.

    What's This?

    Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

    If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.