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Early Warning Signs of Kidney Stones

author image Rae Uddin
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Early Warning Signs of Kidney Stones
A man with lower back pain is talking to his doctor. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images Ltd/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Kidney stones, which are also called urolithiasis or nephrolithiasis, form when minerals in the body abnormally accumulate and harden, yielding a small mass or stone. Each year, over 500,000 people seek emergency medical care for problems related to kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation. People who develop any of the early warning signs of kidney stones should contact a doctor immediately to prevent additional complications.

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Abdominal or Back Pain

The characteristic early warning sign of kidney stones is pain. The kidneys are positioned on both sides of the lower back. Consequently, sensations of pain due to kidney stones typically arise within this region of the body. Pain can be severe and typically develops suddenly. In certain people, pain from the lower back can radiate into the lower abdominal or groin regions. Severe back or abdominal pain can interfere with a person's ability to sit up or move about normally. Any person who experiences sudden, severe back or abdominal pain should seek immediate medical attention, as these early warning signs of kidney stones can be symptoms of other medical problems, such as appendicitis or kidney infection.

Urine Changes

As a kidney stone passes through the urinary tract, it can damage the small tubes that carry urine out of the body. When this occurs, people can notice changes in the appearance or smell of their urine. People with kidney stones can excrete small amounts of blood within the urine as an early warning sign of this condition. As a result, urine can appear abnormally dark or red in color. Certain people may also observe that their urine emits an unusually strong or unpleasant smell or appears cloudy.

Painful, Frequent Urination

Kidney stones that pass into the bladder can irritate and inflame this organ. Bladder irritation can lead to painful or frequent urination, an early sign of kidney stones. Frequent, urgent or painful urination can be a sign of other medical problems, such as a urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted disease. Affected people should discuss these early warning signs of kidney stones with a doctor.

Flulike Symptoms

Certain people can develop an infection if a kidney stone becomes stuck along the urinary tract. Infection can be accompanied by fever, chills and fatigue. Severe back or abdominal pain caused by kidney stones can lead to stomach upset in patients. People with kidney stones can feel nauseous or may begin to vomit.

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