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When should a kidney stone be treated?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Many kidney stones will pass on their own--but you could be absolutely miserable in the meantime, depending on their size (and if not, they could make you very sick).  Depending on the size of the stone, treatment can include: prescription medication to accelerate and ease the passage of the stone, pain medications, and (if it's large enough or blocked) a procedure to break up the stone.
If it's your first kidney stone (in which case you may be trying to self-diagnose, which is dangerous), your pain is severe, the pain is not going away, you have a fever or vomiting, if you've had complications from kidney stones in the past or any other concerns, then it's a good idea to see your doctor to find out which of the treatments will be best for you.  
Kidney stones should be treated when:
Pain is not readily or easily controlled with oral medications.
Associated symptoms are present (for example, nausea, vomiting).
Fever or infection is present or suspected (can be life threatening).
Involved patient has:
  • single (solitary) kidney.
  • poor overall kidney function.
  • complete blockage of urine flow.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.