Kidney Stones in Children | Symptoms & Causes

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What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Symptoms may vary from none, in the case of “silent stones,” (stones that are still in the kidney and have not moved to the ureter) to severe pain due to urinary obstruction. Common symptoms of kidney stone disease include:

  • pain in the abdomen, flank (side), back, or groin
  • blood in the urine
  • frequent urination
  • nausea and/or vomiting

Keep in mind that kidney stones affect different children in different ways. Young children in particular may present with vague symptoms that can make diagnosis challenging.

Any child with pain accompanied by blood in the urine—even if it’s just a little bit—should be evaluated by a doctor.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when there is too much of the mineral ingredients of the stone and not enough water in the urine.

This can occur either because there is an abnormally high mineral content in the urine, or the urine is too concentrated because of dehydration.

Some rare stone diseases can result from inborn metabolic problems, which means that the child has a genetic condition that causes his body to make these stones. A family history of kidney stones predisposes other members of the family to have stones, although how these tendencies are passed from one generation to the next is not well understood.

Children who can’t move for long periods of time (in traction after surgery, for example) may also be susceptible to stones, because when bones are inactive, they’re unable to regenerate themselves properly, which results in calcium being flushed into the system.

Questions to ask your doctor

You and your family are key players in your child’s medical care. It’s important that you share your observations and ideas with your child’s health care provider and that you understand your provider’s recommendations.

If your child is suffering from kidney stones and you’ve set up an appointment, you probably already have some ideas and questions on your mind, but at the appointment, it can be easy to forget the questions you wanted to ask. It’s often helpful to jot them down ahead of time so that you can leave the appointment feeling like you have the information you need. You may want to suggest that your child write down what he wants to ask his health care provider, too.

Some of the questions you may want to ask:

  • Can my child pass these stones?
  • What are our treatment options?
  • What sort of dietary changes do we need to make?
  • What can we do to encourage our child to drink more water?
  • Where can we go for further information?

Keep in mind that your doctor will want to ask you some questions, too, such as:

  • Is this your child’s first stone?
  • Is there a history of stone disease in the family?
  • How much water does your child drink each day?
  • What’s your child’s diet like?
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