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Kidney Stone: Care Instructions

Picture of a kidney stone in the ureter


Kidney stones are formed when salts, minerals, and other substances normally found in the urine clump together. They can be as small as grains of sand or, rarely, as large as golf balls.

While the stone is travelling through the ureter, which is the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder, you will probably feel pain. The pain may be mild or very severe. You may also have some blood in your urine. As soon as the stone reaches the bladder, any intense pain should go away.

If a stone is too large to pass on its own, you may need a medical procedure to help you pass the stone.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Your doctor may ask you to strain your urine so that you can collect your kidney stone when it passes. You can use a kitchen strainer or a tea strainer to catch the stone. Store it in a plastic bag until you see your doctor again.

Preventing future kidney stones

Some changes in your diet may help prevent kidney stones. Depending on the cause of your stones, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Limit coffee, tea, and alcohol. Also avoid grapefruit juice.
  • Do not take more than the recommended daily dose of vitamins C and D.
  • Avoid antacids such as Gaviscon or Tums.
  • Limit the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in protein.
  • Limit foods that are high in a substance called oxalate, which can cause kidney stones. These foods include dark green vegetables, rhubarb, chocolate, wheat bran, nuts, cranberries, and beans.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You cannot keep down fluids.
  • Your pain gets worse.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have new or worse pain in your back just below your rib cage (the flank area).
  • You have new or more blood in your urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.