Can kids get kidney stones? The answer is yes

Cases are on the rise, especially in the summer

Can kids get kidney stones? Adults are more likely to experience the condition. But over the past two decades, more children and teens with kidney stones are showing up for treatment.

“We see multiple kids a month for kidney stones,” said Jeffrey T. White, M.D., pediatric urologist with Norton Children’s Urology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. “Each year the numbers are growing.”

What causes kidney stones in kids?

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys. They can affect any part of the urinary tract and often are incredibly painful to pass.

A kidney stone may cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain during urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present
  • Urinating small amounts

Dehydration and a poor diet are common causes of kidney stones.

If your child doesn’t drink enough fluids, the urine can become concentrated and dark. This increases the chance for crystals to form because there is less fluid available to dissolve them.

The type of food your child eats can affect the chances of getting kidney stones. High-sodium diets that include processed food, frozen foods, and fast food increase the risk.

A high-protein diet can increase acid in the body. This decreases the amount of urinary citrate, a “good” chemical that helps prevent stones. A high-salt diet is another risk factor.

A family history of the condition also puts children at higher risk for developing kidney stones at some point in their life.

Norton Children’s Urology

We have the expertise to treat kidney stones in children with state-of-the-art equipment not available elsewhere in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Call (502) 629-KIDS (5437)

How to treat kidney stones in kids

Treatment for your child’s or teen’s kidney stones will depend on the size and type of stones, what’s causing them and the severity of symptoms.

Your doctor may require blood and urine tests as well as ultrasounds, X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans to determine the size and location of the stones.

If the stones are small, they may pass without treatment. If treatment is required, options include medications to relax the ureter to allow stones to pass, or one of several minimally invasive procedures.

If the stones are large and block the urine flow, then surgery or hospitalization may be necessary.

Preventing kidney stones in kids

Limiting salt is very important, particularly during the summer, because children and teens are more likely to become dehydrated.

“Drinking water is key,” Dr. White said. “Water helps flush out the system and keeps those deposits from building up.”

You should seek immediate medical attention if your child or teen experiences the following:

  • Pain so severe that they can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Pain accompanied by fever and chills
  • Blood in urine
  • Difficulty passing urine


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