It may be surprising to hear that kids and adolescents can get kidney stones just like adults. Also newsworthy is that numbers of cases are on the rise in these age groups.
Urologist Dr. Eric Nelson provides some insight into what kidney stones are and how to know if your child has one.
What are kidney stones and why are they occurring more?
Kidney stones are small masses that are created when high levels of salts and minerals in urine come together and form tiny crystals. These crystals can build up and harden into pebble-like pieces ranging in size from a few millimeters to about the size of a marble.
Kidney stones that sit in the kidney don’t usually cause problems. However, very often they move and travel down the urinary system causing blockage. This can lead to severe pain, vomiting and infection.
Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of kids and adolescents with kidney stones. Research indicates that a changing diet and poor hydration – in other words, kids eating more processed foods and drinking unhealthy drinks – might be playing a role.
How can I help prevent my child from developing a kidney stone?
WATER! Good hydration is the best and most important defense against forming kidney stones. It helps dilute urine (when it’s less concentrated it is less likely that stones will form) and helps wash any potential stones away. Any fluid is beneficial, but juices and sodas are loaded with sugar so simple water is the best bet.
Salt in the diet also can contribute to kidney stones so salt intake is something to watch. In addition to salt added to food at the table, any processed/pre-prepared food can have a lot of salt.
How do I know if my child has a kidney stone?
Sometimes stones are first noticed during an imaging test, like an x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan, for an unrelated issue. Most of the time, a child with a kidney stone experiences symptoms like:
- Blood in the urine
- Belly pain
- Back pain
If a child has mild symptoms, they should be seen by a pediatrician or urologist. More severe symptoms might require a check in the emergency room.
Are kidney stones treatable?
YES! Drinking extra water and taking specialized medicine is sometimes needed to help the stone pass all the way through a child’s urinary system and out of the body. If the stone is too big or symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed.
Does CHoR treat stones?
YES! Our urologists treat each child individually and can develop a treatment plan that’s best for your child. We also work with nephrologists who can help figure out why your child is making stones. It’s a team approach! Our goal is not only to treat the stones, but also to figure out why they were there and prevent them from recurring.
Find out about all the other ways our nationally-ranked urology team helps kids thrive.