Approximately one in a 1,000 U.S. adults is hospitalized annually because of stones in the urinary tract. These stones vary in size from microscopic to more than an inch in diameter. Kidney stones often form when urine becomes too saturated with salts or lacks the ability to inhibit kidney stone formation. About 80 percent calcium, kidney stones are also composed of uric acid, cystine and struvite, indicating an infection is present.
If you have kidney stones, you are probably experiencing an intense shooting pain in your abdomen that can be debilitating. Sometimes you will also feel pain in your lower back, side or groin. Other symptoms include fever or chills, along with cold, hot or sweaty skin. You might also lose your appetite, feel nauseous or tired and experience either diarrhea or constipation. In addition, you may experience urine-flow blockage, blood in your urine, a burning or smarting sensation when you urinate or cloudy or discolored urine. To diagnose kidney stones, doctors will order either a blood or a urine test and sometimes an ultrasound or X-ray. Sometimes kidney stones can be passed by a noninvasive flushing with lots of fluids, but other times this problem requires a doctor’s intervention or minor surgery under general anesthesia. Many times you will also need to take an antibiotic to help clear up an infection caused by the formation of the kidney stones.
Constipation is usually a separate issue that seems to be unrelated to the presence of kidney stones. But both of these problems can be caused by not drinking enough water. (The recommendation is about eight glasses of water a day.) As a result, people who have kidney stones can also experience constipation, even though one does not necessarily cause the other. People who are prone to both kidney stones and constipation should limit caffeine intake, because it can increase the risk of both these conditions. Taking a magnesium supplement can decrease the risk of getting kidney stones, but large doses of vitamin C taken over a number of years can increase the chance that you will develop kidney stones. If you happen to be someone who has had both constipation and kidney stones in the past, you should make some lifestyle changes including getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fiber, because any type of health problem can be an indication of some type of imbalance in the body. So, although constipation may occasionally be a symptom that accompanies kidney stones, there is no conclusive proof that kidney stones actually cause constipation.