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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, or hard deposits that form from minerals and salts inside your kidneys, are common and on the rise: Approximately 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States experience kidney stones at some point during their lives. Although passing a larger kidney stone can be quite painful, they don’t usually cause lasting damage with proper treatment. From his innovative practice in Arcadia, California, board-certified urologist Dr. Alan Yamada provides comprehensive care for patients with kidney stones. If you’re in the San GabrielValley or surrounding Los Angeles County area, call Foothill Urogenital Health to request your appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are kidney stones?

Your urine contains a wide variety of dissolved minerals and salts. When you have high levels of these substances in your urine, they can form into hard deposits, or stones.

As their name implies, kidney stones are made by your kidneys. They start off very small, but can grow larger over time. Although kidney stones may stay in your kidneys and go undetected for years, some stones travel down the ureter, or the tubes that connect each of your kidneys with your bladder.

Stones that reach your bladder may be passed through your urine, while stones that become lodged in your ureter can block the flow of urine and cause a great amount of discomfort.

What causes kidney stones?

While there’s no single underlying cause of kidney stones, certain factors can increase your risk of developing one.

Men are more likely to have kidney stones, as are those with a family history of the problem. You’re also more likely to develop recurrent kidney stones after you’ve had them once. Being very overweight or not including enough fluids in your diet increases your risk, too.

Other factors that are associated with the development of kidney stones include:

  • Persistent urinary tract blockage
  • Chronic bowel inflammation
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Chronic gastrointestinal problems
  • Gout, a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid
  • Cystic kidney disease
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Usually, a kidney stone doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms unless it’s especially large, moves around inside your kidney, or travels into your ureter or bladder. When any of these occur, you may have:

  • Pain during urination
  • Persistent urge to urinate or frequent urination
  • Urinating only small amounts
  • Severe back or side pain below your ribs
  • Pain that extends into your abdomen or groin
  • Intermittent pain that varies in intensity
  • Pink, red, or brown urine; cloudy or smelly urine

Because kidney stones can travel, the pain they cause can shift to a different location as they migrate through your urinary tract.

How are kidney stones treated?

If you have a smaller stone that doesn’t cause too much discomfort, you may be able to simply wait for it to pass on its own — as long as there are no signs of blockage or infection.

If you’re waiting for a stone to pass, Dr. Yamada may also recommend you take tamsulosin, a medication that makes the process easier. Dr. Yamada can also treat kidney stones surgically.

One of the surgical options that Dr. Yamada may perform to treat stones is an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, which is an outpatient surgical treatment that uses repeated waves of ultrasound energy to break large stones into tiny pieces.


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