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10/5/23 blog post

when to be concerned about kidney stones

in this article:

Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys. While they are more common in adults, children can also be affected. Many people may not realize they have kidney stones until they experience severe pain. We asked Christopher Brown, MD, pediatric urologist at Dayton Children's, to help us identify the symptoms of kidney stones and when we should see medical attention for our child.

what are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

Typically, kidney stones do not cause any symptoms until they become stuck as they attempt to move within the urinary tract. Small stones can pass through the body with little or no pain, but larger stones may get stuck and cause symptoms, like:

  • Pain that usually starts in the side or back, spreading to the lower belly
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

what causes kidney stones?

The specific causes and types of kidney stones can vary from person to person. Here are some of the most common causes and contributing factors for kidney stones:

  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to concentrated urine, making it easier for stones to form.
  • Diet: Diets high in sodium, protein and oxalate-rich foods can increase the risk of kidney stone development. Ketogenic diets have also been known to increase the risk of kidney stones.
  • Family history: Some types of kidney stones run in families. Having a relative with kidney stones can increase the risk.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, metabolic disorders and gout can increase an individual's risk.
  • Medications: Certain diuretics and antacids can promote kidney stone formation.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can lead to changes in urinary composition, increasing the likelihood of kidney stones.

when should I seek medical attention for my child?

While some children only have to drink a lot of water and take pain medicine to pass a kidney stone, others with larger stones may need medical attention or surgery to help remove the stones. If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, call your primary care provider or consider an evaluation at urgent care of the emergency department if your primary care provider is not available:

  • Persistent flank or abdominal pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Trouble urinating
  • Pain and blood in urine

Your child's primary care provider will guide you on the next steps. If it is recommended that your child be seen by a specialist in pediatric urology, you can schedule an appointment online.

when to be concerned about kidney stones
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Christopher Brown, MD

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