Unbelievable Kidney Stone Symptoms

With more than 200,000 new cases a year in the United States, kidney stones are an incredibly common—and incredibly uncomfortable—medical condition. Despite how common this condition is though, many don’t know the tell-tale signs of kidney stones.

So, what exactly should someone look for if they suspect they have these stones? We’ll go into further detail below.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

So, just what are some signs that you may be battling kidney stones? The first symptom is downright alarming and requires immediate medical attention, even if kidney stones are not to blame…

13. Bloody Urine

Bloody urine is the number one symptom that triggers a patient response. Known as hematuria, this condition results when the coarse surface of the stone scrapes against the inside walls of the kidneys.

Why do kidney stones cause bloody urine?

The kidneys are lined with soft tissues. So, any contact with a rough surface will damage the capillaries (blood vessels) along this lining; in some cases, this damage results in bleeding.

Given the location of the bleeding, this blood can end up in the urine.

What does bloody urine look like?

The urine’s color may be pink or red, depending upon the amount of blood present. If the blood is of a small enough volume, it may only detected detected in a laboratory exam.

Kidney stones or something else?

Kidney stones are not the only medical condition that can result in bloody urine. However, it’s always important to take this symptom seriously. After all, bloody urine can be a sign of a serious medical condition. So, no matter the cause, bloody urine means a trip to the doctor is necessary.

Now, bloody urine isn’t the only way kidney stones affect your excrement, as seen with the following…

12. Cloudy Urine

Urine that is not clear or transparent is known as cloudy urine. Commonly, it indicates that the urine contains minerals, perhaps some blood, or maybe even pus. If pus is present, it is quite likely the result of a bacterial infection.

Why do kidney stones cause cloudy urine?

The body expels bacteria via urine on a regular basis. However, if a kidney stone obstructs the urinary tract, the flow of urine may slow down. The result? Bacteria become trapped in the tract, which causes bacterial growth. If there is blood in the urinary tract, the bacteria feeds off of that, promoting further bacterial growth.

As stated above, when pus, bacteria, and/or blood are present in the urine, the urine may appear cloudy.

Don’t ignore this symptom.

Cloudy urine can indicate an accompanying infection. That means this symptom requires immediate treatment, as some infections can quickly worsen and cause serious complications.

Now, kidney stones won’t just affect the way your urine looks; they can also affect the way your urine smells…

11. Foul-smelling Urine

Someone who has kidney stones may notice that their urine has a particularly strong and unpleasant odor. The worse the smell, typically the worse the kidney stones are.

Why do kidney stones cause foul-smelling urine?

Urine contains ammonia, which has a notoriously foul odor. When kidney stones block the urinary tract, ammonia accumulates. The result? When urine finally passes, it has a higher concentration of ammonia, which means a strong odor.

Kidney stones or something else?

If there is an accompanying infection, bacteria present in the urine may also cause a strong odor. This infection may or may not be related to kidney stones. (Remember: a complication of untreated kidney stones is a UTI.)

Either way, cloudy urine that doesn’t go away with drinking clear fluids is a sign that it’s probably time to see the doctor.

Of course, if urine smells and has the following appearance, the odds of the cause being kidney stones increase…

10. Foamy or Frothy Urine

Urine that is bubbly or is foamy may indicate kidney stones.

Why do kidney stones cause frothy urine?

Urine becomes frothy or foamy when certain proteins, like albumin, are present. Now, the body is supposed to reabsorb protein and expel what isn’t needed. Disruptions to the digestive process can result in this protein buildup. One such disruption? Kidney stones.

Kidney stones or something else?

Kidney stones aren’t the only cause of frothy urine. Dehydration, for example, can lead to concentrated urine that is frothy in appearance. Sometimes this symptom is from something as simple as urinating too quickly.

So, if drinking water and urinating slowly don’t improve the appearance of urine, it’s time to see a doctor. That is doubly true if the following symptom is present…

9. Burning Sensation During Urination

If it is painful to urinate and/or you experience a burning sensation when urinating, it could be a sign of a kidney stone.

Why do kidney stones cause painful urination?

Specifically, this symptom could be the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by a kidney stone. So, just how do kidney stones cause UTIs?

Well, kidney stones can obstruct regular urine flow. This obstruction leads to urine staying in the body for longer periods of time… which means ample time for bacteria in the region to amplify. Further, micro-organisms present in the urinary tract may attack tissue lining.

The result? Painful and potentially burning urination.

Kidney stones or something else?

A kidney stone-induced UTI isn’t the only cause of painful urination. Causes of painful/burning urination include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • STDs/STIs
  • Prostate infection
  • Cancer
  • Medication side effect

Whatever the cause, it’s best to consult a doctor if this symptom presents, especially if the following symptom is present, too…

8. Extreme Abdominal Pain

Kidney stones cause pain in the stomach that is extreme in nature. The pain typically begins as general discomfort and becomes increasingly more severe. Some describe it as an “ebb-and-flow-like” pain similar to contractions in pregnancy.

Why do kidney stones cause pain?

A dislodged kidney stone can become wedged in the ureter. Because the stone is larger than this passageway, it uncomfortably stretches the ureter walls, thereby producing excruciating pain.

Kidney stones or something else?

Once again, kidney stones may not be the only reason abdominal pain occurs. Other causes of stomach/abdominal pain include:

  • Menstruation
  • Cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Food allergies
  • Food intolerance

Of course, pain might not be exclusive to the abdominal region…

7. Extreme Back, Flank and Groin Pain

Kidney stones can generate pain in the abdomen that may radiate to the back, flanks (sides), and even to the groin.

Why do kidney stones cause this kind of pain?

Kidney stone pain is not exclusively relegated to one area of the body. This pain is a result of the kidney stones flowing through ureters, whose walls are very sensitive. Additionally, urine may build up in the kidneys. When this buildup occurs, pressure increases, which in turn results in pain.

In short, because of the nature and location of kidney stones, pain may radiate out from the abdomen.

Do kidney stones hurt worse when lying down?

Kidney stone pain can be debilitating. In fact, the pain might be so severe that it’s impossible to find relief no matter how you situate yourself. Lying down, sitting, standing up, squatting—they all provide no relief.

Kidney stones or something else?

Only a doctor will be able to confirm the exact cause of your pain. However, kidney stone pain is typically sharp in nature. Infections typically produce duller aches.

While the next symptom of kidney stones is not painful, it is certainly inconvenient…

6. Urgent Need to Urinate

Have to not only urinate, but need to urinate right now? It could be that kidney stones are to blame for your urgent need to urinate.

Why do kidney stones make you feel like you have to urinate right away?

Pressure receptors in the urinary tract let the brain know when it is time to urinate. A kidney stone can activate these receptors. As a result, these receptors mistakenly notify the brain that it is time to urinate right away.

How does this symptom manifest?

This symptom typically presents as an urgent sensation to urinate. Although, little to no flow of urine is present once you visit the restroom.

Kidney stones or something else?

Other potential causes of this symptom include:

  • Overactive bladder (OAB)
  • Stress incontinence
  • UTI

Now, you might not notice an urgent need to urinate; that urge just might be much more frequent than what is normal for you…

5. Urinating More than Usual

A frequent need to urinate—followed by actual, excessive urination—may indicate a kidney stone.

Why do kidney stones make you urinate more?

Urinary tract receptors notify the brain to send a signal to relax the bladder and sphincter muscles when it is time to pass waste. However, kidney stones can trigger the same reaction, which causes patients to frequently feel the need to urinate.

Kidney stones or something else?

Sometimes the cause of frequent urination isn’t due to kidney stones. It may be:

  • Pregnancy
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diuretics
  • UTIs
  • Overactive bladder (OAB)

Of course, some people can have the complete opposite problem…

4. Little or No Urine During Urination

Feel an urgent sensation to urinate followed by little or no urine flow? It could be kidney stones.

Why do kidney stones halt urine flow?

Kidney stones block the urinary tract, limiting the flow of urine. On top of that, stones can activate receptors that signal to the brain that it’s time “to go” right now… even if there is little to no urine actually present in the bladder. This situation results in someone constantly running to the bathroom despite not actually having to empty their bladders.

Kidney stones or something else?

Decreased output of urine is medically known as oliguria. Kidney stones are not the only causes of this condition, and sometimes the causes aren’t serious at all. Some causes of oliguria include:

  • Dehydration
  • Holding urine in
  • Side effects of medication

The following symptom of kidney stones needs to be taken seriously, as it could lead to serious dehydration…

3. Nausea, Vomiting and Loss of Appetite

A kidney stone may cause all three of these symptoms for fairly similar reasons.

Why do kidney stones cause nausea?

Location is everything.

Because the abdominal region is affected by kidney stones, nausea is almost inevitable. After all, the kidneys and digestive tract are part of the same network of nerves. Therefore, when an illness affects the kidneys, it also impacts the digestive tract as a whole. Importantly, nausea is one way the body lets us know that something is wrong.

Why do kidney stones cause vomiting?

Similarly to nausea, patients suffering from kidney stones often vomit.


Because the gut and kidneys are on the same network of nerves. Specifically, the kidney stone tricks the body into believing that the stomach is full, sometimes too full. As a result, the body sends a message to the stomach, instructing it to empty its contents right away (aka, vomiting).

Why do kidney stones cause loss of appetite?

A loss of appetite is a natural consequence of both nausea and vomiting, so it is more of an indirect side effect of kidney stones.

What are some side effects of these symptoms?

  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Clamminess
  • Extreme nausea radiating into the pit of the stomach
  • Reduced or no desire to ingest liquids or solids
  • Dehydration

The following chilling sign of kidney stones? It’s definitely not something to ignore…

2. Fever and Chills

Fevers and chills aren’t just flu symptoms…

Why do kidney stones cause fever?

The body may react to the presence of the kidney stone as if it is fighting an infection. (In fact, if left untreated, kidney stones may lead to an actual infection.) One of the go-to ways the body fights infection? Fever.

Why, though?

You see, some bacteria cannot survive in high temperatures. Therefore, the body cranks up the heat in an attempt to kill the bacteria. This bump in heat is what we know as fever.

Why do kidney stones cause chills?

Chills result from similar reasons as fevers. In other words, they are the body’s attempt to increase heat to kill infections. Specifically, chills are the result of the body contracting and relaxing muscles; this movement can generate internal heat.

Kidney stones or something else?

So, why else might someone experience fever and chills?

  • The flu
  • A cold
  • Pneumonia
  • Hypothermia
  • Stomach virus

Whatever the reason, fever and chills can be signs of a serious underlying condition. So, when high fever and chills are present, it’s time to seek out professional medical attention.

The most easily-missed sign of kidney stones?

The following cause of kidney stones? It might be one that’s easily overlooked…

1. Restlessness

Pain and urine problems might be the classic signs of kidney stones, but they aren’t the only ones. In fact, kidney stones can cause cognitive symptoms as well, such as restlessness.

Why do kidney stones cause restlessness?

Reduced kidney function from kidney stones can mean an accumulation of impurities and other harmful substances. The result of these excess toxins? Feeling restless.

What are the signs of restlessness?

Restlessness may manifest in the following ways:

  • Confusion
  • An inability to focus
  • Nervous energy
  • Feeling “on edge”

What’s next?

So, what should someone who suspects they have kidney stones do?…

Final Thoughts

Kidney stones are an extremely painful and serious medical condition that requires medical condition. After all, left untreated, they can lead to some serious health complications.

Don’t wait to get professional help.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed previously, seek immediate medical attention before the pain becomes too much to bear. Take even the slightest symptom seriously, as once the pain graduates from intermittent to excruciating, you will require the attention of a medical professional to treat this condition.

Furthermore, even if kidney stones aren’t to blame, these symptoms can all result from medical conditions that still require emergency medical attention.


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