Statistics suggest that one in 10 Americans develops kidney stones at some point. If that person happened to be you, you might want to know a few things. First, you may want to know why you’ve developed a kidney stone. Most people also want to know what to do to get rid of the formation. Kidney stones get “passed,” meaning the body can eliminate them. It may need some help doing so. Here, we discuss what you need to know about passing a kidney stone.
- Not All Kidney Stones Will Pass Naturally
Doctors and scientists have been studying kidney stones for years. What research has found is that formations smaller than 5mm may be able to pass naturally. This means that the stones will pass through the urethra and be excreted in the urine. If a stone is larger than 5mm, a urologist may perform a procedure to break up the stones so they can pass. Common techniques include:
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). This is a surgical procedure in which shock waves target kidney stones to break them up.
- Ureteroscopy with Laser Lithotripsy. This technique fragments the formations using powerful mini-lasers.
- Percutaneous Nephrostolithotomy is performed for very large stones. It involves a tiny puncture incision and insertion of a pulverizing instrument to dissolve formations.
- You Can Help Kidney Stones Pass
If you suspect you have a kidney stone, you need to contact a urologist for a full examination that can determine the size of the stone. Remember, larger stones are unlikely to pass without being broken up first.
- Drinking a lot of water infused with citrus fruits may help break up and pass stones.
- Drinking lemon juice with olive oils may ease discomfort and help break up stones.
- Drinking apple cider vinegar (a few ounces mixed with water) may help dissolve kidney stones and prevent the formation of new stones.
- Eating diuretic foods such as cucumber, celery, and watermelon can help stones pass.
- A doctor may prescribe an alpha-blocker to relax the muscles of the urinary tract so stones can pass more comfortably.
- Kidney Stones May Cause Pain as They Pass
The pain of passing a kidney stone is not intolerable, but it is noticeable. As the kidney stone passes, pain may occur in the back, sides, and urinary tract. You can talk with your urologist about how to manage comfort as the stone works its way out.
- There is No Telling How Long it Will Take for the Stone to Pass
The size and location of a kidney stone influence how long it may take to pass. Some stones are located close to the ureter and bladder, while others are situated at the far end of the kidney and have to make their way to their exit point. Again, if a stone is large, it probably will not pass spontaneously.