How long does it take for kidney stones to pass?

The kidneys are in charge of filtering the blood for urea and excess minerals. These substances are frequently excreted in the urine. Large concentrations of these minerals can, in some situations, build up in the kidneys, causing crystal-like stones.

Kidney stones can form in one or both kidneys. They may then flow thru the ureter, the tube that links the kidney to the bladder.

Small kidney stones usually pass thru without causing any problems and may not cause any symptoms. Larger stones can become lodged in the ureter and cause pain. They may cause issues such as infection and renal damage if they are not removed.

The speed with which a kidney stone passes can be influenced by a number of factors. More information on how long it takes to pass a kidney stone, how to speed up the process, and treatment options can be found in this article.

When to consult your doctor

doctor and patient

Smaller kidney stones may pass on their own, producing little pain. Large stones, on the other hand, can be uncomfortable and raise the risk of health problems.

Pain is a sign that a person needs to see a doctor. They’ll be able to tell if the stone has to be treated in any way to help it pass.

If people have any of the following symptoms, they should see a doctor:

  • blood in the urine
  • fever and chills
  • vomiting
  • severe and persistent pain in the back or side
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • a burning feeling when urinating

These symptoms could indicate a kidney infection, which needs to be treated right once to avoid more serious problems.

Duration

Size and placement are the two key elements that determine how quickly a stone passes.

Size

A kidney stone’s size influences how rapidly it passes through a person’s body. Smaller stones pass more quickly and with less pain.

The approximate timelines for passing kidney stones of various sizes are listed below:

  • Around 80% of kidney stones with a size of less than 4 mm will pass on their own in around 31 days.
  • Around 60% of kidney stones with a diameter of 4–6 mm will pass on their own after 45 days.
  • Around 20% of kidney stones that are larger than 6 mm will pass on their own after a year. When stones are this large, however, it is better to consider surgical removal as soon as possible.

Location
The position of the kidney stone also has an impact on whether or not it can be passed naturally. Some stones develop in the kidney, whereas others develop in the ureter.

Kidney stones that form near the kidney form in the upper section of the ureter. Those that form near the bladder are those that form in the lower section.

According to a 2014 assessment of research, 48 percent of stones that develop near the kidney pass without intervention. For stones that grow close to the bladder, the percentage climbs to 79 percent.

How to speed up the process

Drinking enough of water is the best technique to assist speed up the passing of a kidney stone. The extra fluid increases urine, which aids in the movement of the stone.

A person can also take actions to avoid the formation of new stones and the growth of existing ones. These steps are as follows:

  • limiting protein intake
  • reducing calcium intake
  • consuming less salt
  • eating more citrus fruits

Citrus fruits contain the chemical citrate, which can help prevent kidney stones from forming.

Dietitians and doctors can also recommend food programmes for kidney stone management.

Pain relief remedies

Kidney stones can be inconvenient and even painful to pass. In certain circumstances, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen may be sufficient to relieve pain.

If a person’s kidney stones are especially painful, they should speak with their doctor, who may be able to prescribe stronger pain relievers.

Treatment and surgery

Kidney stones can be treated without surgery in a number of ways. These are some of them:

  • Alpha-blockers: These drugs relax the ureter, alleviating painful spasms and helping the stone pass.
  • Calcium channel blockers: These drugs widen the ureter, helping the stone pass through.
  • Lithotripsy: This procedure uses sound waves to break the stone into smaller fragments that can pass more easily.

Surgery is rarely the first treatment option. Kidney stones greater than 6 mm, on the other hand, necessitate emergency surgery. Large stones can become lodged in the ureter, resulting in infections and kidney damage.

Ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy are the two main surgical options for kidney stone removal.

A general anaesthesia is required during ureteroscopy. Using tiny instruments introduced via the urethra, the surgeon removes or breaks up the stone during the surgery. A stent may then be placed into the urethra to keep it open. This makes it easier for any little stone shards to flow through.

The surgeon removes very large stones measuring 10 mm or more during percutaneous nephrolithotomy. A tiny incision in the back is used to remove the stone directly from the kidney. The surgery necessitates a general anaesthesia and a one to two-day stay in the hospital.

Recovery

The time it takes to recuperate from a kidney stone is determined by how quickly it goes. The pain should go away fast if the stone passes naturally or with minimal medication.

If lithotripsy is performed as an outpatient operation, the patient should be able to return home the same day. The amount of time it takes to recover depends in part on the type of anaesthetic used.

If surgery is necessary, most people are able to resume most of their routine activities within a day of the procedure. People who receive a stent, on the other hand, should avoid high-intensity activities until the stent is removed by a medical practitioner. About a week after surgery, something happens.

Pain medicines may be used throughout recuperation.

Conclusion

Kidney stones are often unpleasant, and passing them through the body’s system might take many weeks. If a person’s stones become very painful or if they suffer other concerning symptoms, they should consult a doctor.

Kidney stones can be treated using a variety of methods. The goal of drug therapy is to relieve pain and suffering while also allowing the stone to pass more freely.

Kidney stones that are too large to pass naturally, on the other hand, may need to be surgically removed. Within a day or two of surgery, most people are able to resume their daily activities.

Sources:

  • https://www.urologyhealth.org/careblog/a-patients-guide-to-laser-treatment-for-urinary-stones
  • https://intermountainhealthcare.org/ext/Dcmnt?ncid=520728251
  • https://urology.wustl.edu/patient-care/kidney-stones/kidney-stones-overview/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326775
  • https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/selfcare-instructions/kidney-stones-self-care
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897056/