Understanding, Treating, Preventing
What is a Kidney Stone?

A kidney stone (medical term: renal calculus) is a mineral that forms in a kidney.
A kidney stone may stay in the kidney or break loose and travel in the urinary tract.

Depending on the size, kidney stones can be very painful. A small stone (like the size of a pea) may pass all the way out of the body without causing too much pain. But a large stone (like the size of your fist!) may get stuck in the ureter, bladder, or urethra.  A problem stone can block the flow of urine and cause a lot of pain.

The Urinary Tract
The Kidneys

Your body has 2 kidneys. Your kidneys works hard to keep stuff you don’t need out of your blood and make urine (pee).

The Ureters

Tube that carries urine (pee) from the kidneys to the bladder

The Urethra

Tube that carries urine (pee) from the bladder to out of your body

The Bladder

Stores the urine (pee)

Tactile graphic of kidneys, kidney stones, and bladder
Kidney stones

Wait for the stone to pass (pee it out) by itself, usually for smaller stones.
Drink lots of water.
May need pain medication.


-A sharp pain in back (or side)
-More trips to the bathroom to urinate (pee) than usual
-Vomiting (throwing up)
-Burning feeling when you pee
-See stone in your pee (when you pass a stone try to catch it in a strainer to show your doctor)
-See blood (dark or bright red) in your urine


-Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, will keep the kidney stones away!
-Limit drinking alcohol and caffeine (like coffee or tea).
-Lose any excess weight
-Try to cut sodium (salt) and stone-forming foods (spinach, strawberries, chocolate, nuts, wheat, animal protein) out of your diet


Sometimes if the stone is too big or too painful to pass, you may need surgery. Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL) is the most common surgery to treat kidney stones. If you have surgery, your doctor will give you medicine to put you to sleep. This way you will not feel anything. Your doctor may remove the stone or break the stone into tiny little pieces so it can pass in your urine.

Are You At Risk for Kidney Stones?

Read and ✔ the questions below to find out! The more check marks you see, the higher your chances are of getting kidney stones:

✔  Have you (or a family member) ever had a kidney stone before?
✔ Do you drink less than 8 glasses of water a day?
✔  Do you have frequent urinary tract infections?
✔  Is your diet high in salt? (ex. Eating Fries, Chips, Pretzels, Cheese)
✔  Is your diet high in animal protein/meat?
✔  Are you overweight?
✔  Are you between the ages of 30-50 years old?
✔  Do you eat/drink a lot of spinach, strawberries, nuts, chocolate or tea?


American Urological Association –
National Kidney Foundation –
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases –
Kidney Urology –
Kids Health –
Deaf Health

Download Kidney brochure – PDF version
Download Kidney brochure – Word version