Kidney Stone Symptoms: What You Need to Know

kidney stone symptoms

When the pain of a kidney stone strikes, there are two things you want - fast relief and to know what is causing that excruciating pain. Well, to determine if it is in fact a kidney stone, you must first be aware of the kidney stone symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), kidney stones are most likely to affect individuals between ages 20-40 and occur more frequently among Caucasians and men.

What are the kidney stone symptoms?

Kidney stone symptoms could include extreme pain.

Although kidney stones are often times associated with pain, there are some kidney stones that pass on their own that you might not even know about. This is because they are small and easily pass through your urinary system. Kidney stones could be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pebble. A few are as large as a golf ball! It’s the bigger stones that usually cause the issues that send you to the doctor or emergency room, but don’t be fooled. Even those small ones could cause extreme pain along with a flurry of other kidney stone symptoms.

Intense pain in your abdomen, side, lower back, and groin area is one of the first tell-tale signs that you are suffering from a kidney stone. Other signs and kidney stone symptoms could include one or more of the following:

  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain on urination
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • More vague pain or stomach ache that doesn't go away
  • Pink, red or brown urine which is blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Fever and chills (if an infection is present)

Pain caused by a kidney stone may change — for instance, shifting to a different location or increasing in intensity — as the stone moves through your urinary tract. []

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Intense pain in your abdomen, side, lower back, and or groin area is one of the first tell-tale signs that you are suffering from a kidney stone.

What to do if you experience kidney stone symptoms?

You could see a doctor to confirm that you have kidney stones. Many chronic kidney stone sufferers may know when they have a stone as they are well too familiar with the feeling. You may be asked to drink extra fluid in an attempt to flush out the stone through the urine. You may also be provided pain medication as there’s a good chance you will be in agonizing pain soon if you are not yet already. If you’re not in pain, consider yourself lucky, but know that this could change at any moment. That is why it’s important that you address your kidney stone and be proactive in trying to eliminate it. If the stone is causing a blockage in the flow of urine, it may need to be removed with surgery. However, surgery should be a last resort option and usually only if the stone poses a severe danger.*

How are kidney stones diagnosed?

There are a number of tests and examinations your doctor may perform when you are complaining of your kidney stone symptoms. In the diagnosis of a kidney stone, a doctor will use your medical history, physical examination, and lab and imaging tests. Your doctor may ask you a number of questions to diagnose the kidney stones.

Lifestyle Questions: When describing your kidney stone symptoms, your doctor might ask questions like, are you physically active? How much water do you drink? What do you typically eat?

One of the most common causes of kidney stones leading to kidney stone symptoms is dehydration. Sticking with water is always the best bet. A sedentary lifestyle is also a contributing factor to kidney stone development, though, if you do work out a lot, it’s important to stay properly hydrated. Foods that are high in oxalates (dark leafy greens, chocolate, and beans) can increase your chances of developing kidney stones, as can diets high in sodium, protein, low in calcium, and eating a lot of foods that are high in Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Medical & Medication Questions: Your doctor will ask if you have a history of health conditions that make you more likely to develop kidney stones. They will also ask if you are taking any medications as they might be causing or contributing to your kidney stones forming. [] Certain medical conditions that have been found to increase your chances of developing kidney stones include gout, inflammatory bowel disease, sarcoidosis, parathyroid disease, frequent UTIs, abdominal surgery – such as gastric bypass, and being on bed rest.

Lab Tests:
Urine tests can show whether your urine contains high levels of minerals that form kidney stones. Urine and blood tests can also help your doctor find out what type of kidney stones you have.

Urinalysis. Urinalysis involves your doctor testing your urine sample. You will collect a urine sample at a doctor’s office or at a lab, and the sample will be tested. Urinalysis can show whether your urine has blood in it and minerals that can form kidney stones. White blood cells and bacteria in the urine mean you may have a urinary tract infection

Blood tests. Your doctor may take a blood sample from you and send the sample to a lab to test. The blood test can show if you have high levels of certain minerals in your blood that can lead to kidney stones.


Once a kidney stone is diagnosed and properly dealt with, it is important to know the cause of the kidney stone. Kidney stones often have no definite, single cause, although several factors may increase your risk.

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