Don’t Let Kidney Stones Affect Your Child

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nicole-freedman-author-banner-101613Did you know that children, even infants, can get kidney stones? While it used to not be very common in the kids, doctors are finding kidney stones increasingly more common. Kidney stones can cause unbearable pain, and can be difficult to get rid of. The best advice for dealing with stones is to try to avoid them in the first place. As a nurse practitioner in the Division of Pediatric Urology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I’ll provide a little background on kidney stones and tips on kidney stone prevention.

Don’t Let Kidney Stones Affect Your ChildKidney stones are small, hard deposits of material that come together to form little “rocks” in the urinary tract. They are most often composed of minerals and acid salts such as calcium, oxalate, uric acid and phosphate. When these materials clump together, they form tiny hard clumps that can range in size from a few millimeters to bigger than a marble. The hard stones don’t just form in the kidneys, they can form anywhere along the urinary tract including the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and bladder.

Stones can sit and grow in the urinary tract for months without causing any pain or discomfort. However, when they start to move they can be painful or get stuck and cause a blockage so the urine cannot pass through the urinary tract.What are Kidney Stones?

Causes and Symptoms of Kidney Stones (Tweet this)

There are multiple causes and contributing factors to kidney stone formation. Here are the main causes of kidney stones:

  • Bacteria from urinary tract infections
  • Certain medications
  • Dehydration
  • Genetics
  • Little to no exercise
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Problems with formation of urinary tract inside the body

The four main symptoms of kidney stones are: 

Don’t Let Kidney Stones Affect Your Child

  1. Blood in the urine
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Pain in the stomach area, back and groin
  4. Painful urination

If you are concerned your child has or may have kidney stones, it is very important to talk to their pediatrician. Your child’s pediatrician may recommend referral to a pediatric urologist to discuss stone removal or a pediatric nephrologist to discuss ongoing management and stone prevention. If your child is suffering from intense pain with nausea and vomiting, then they should be taken to the emergency department (ED) for prompt evaluation. Note: If your child passed a kidney stone and you find it, place it in a plastic bag and take it to their pediatrician.

How are Kidney Stones Treated?

Treatment depends on where the stones are located in your child’s urinary tract, the size of the stones and how many stones formed inside your child. Sometimes a kidney stone can pass by itself (e.g. when your child urinates). If there are too many stones or the stone is too large, your child may not be able to simply urinate it out. If this happens, a pediatric urologist will consider removing the stones by a variety of methods:

  • Using lasers to break apart the kidney stone in an operating room.
  • Putting a tiny tube, called a scope, up your child’s urethra and through the urinary tract to pull out the stone
  • Inserting a tube directly through your child’s skin and into the kidney to find, break down and remove the stone
  • Undergoing surgery (this is not very common)

Lifestyle Choices help with Kidney Stone Prevention (Tweet this)

  • Drink a lot of water. Your child’s urine should be almost clear. If your child’s urine is dark, the more at risk they are to form kidney stones. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about how much water they need to drink each day.
  • Avoid certain foods. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a nephrologist about foods to add or avoid in your child’s diet. This will depend on the type of stones the child is at risk for forming in their urinary tract.
  • Healthy diet and regular exercise. Help your child lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity, which is also a risk factor for stone formation.

I hope you learned something new about kidney stones and feel prepared to help manage and prevent kidney stones from affecting your child.