When a kidney stone blocks the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder, called the ureters, urine collects in the kidneys, causing a kidney infection. Kidney stones may block the tube that drains the bladder, called the urethra, and cause cystitis or inflammation and irritation of the bladder. Infection ensues. Infection in the urinary system causes distinct symptoms and, if not treated quickly, can cause serious illness and kidney damage.
A person with an acute kidney stone may have a low grade fever, less than 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Donna D. Ignatavicius, MS RN, and M. Linda Workman, Ph.D., authors of “Medical-Surgical Nursing: Critical Thinking for Collaborative Care.” But a higher and persistent fever indicates infection and should be evaluated by a physician.
Nausea and Vomiting
A history of a kidney stones along with nausea and vomiting indicates a kidney infection or pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis makes the individual feel very ill, sometimes requiring hospitalization. People with pyelonephritis may not even be able to tolerate clear liquids.
A kidney stone that partially or completely blocks the urethra prevents urination. Urine concentrates in the bladder and causes infection. Once a person can void, the urine will be dark amber, malodorous and cloudy, and may cause a burning sensation during urination.
Scott and White Healthcare explains that an infection in the bladder causes frequency, or the urge to urinate often. A kidney stone in the bladder irritates the lining of the bladder, causing swelling and pain. Frequency is often accompanied by painful urination. People may try not to void because of the pain, further compounding the problem.
A person feels abdominal pain as a kidney stone travels through the ureter and urethra. Characterized as colicky, a stone in the ureter will cause pain on the side of the abdomen where the stone is located. However, diffuse lower abdominal pain and tenderness to abdominal palpation indicates cystitis, and a person with these symptoms needs medical evaluation.
Kidney stones cause flank pain when lodged in the kidney or ureter, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Once the stone travels to the bladder flank, pain should resolve. A person who complains of increasing flank pain could have pyelonephritis, especially if this symptom is accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting.
- “Medical-Surgical Nursing: Critical Thinking for Collaborative Care”; Donna D. Ignatavicius MS RN, & M. Linda Workman Ph.D.; 2006
- Scott and White Healthcare: Urinary Tract Infection
- National Kidney Foundation: Kidney Stones