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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Kidney stones

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

Kidneys stones can take up to several weeks to pass. Once you have had a kidney stone, you are more likely to have another stone in the future. Whilst kidney stones are not usually harmful to your body, they can be extremely painful.

The kidneys are located high up in your back, under your ribs. The kidneys produce urine. There are tubes which connect your kidneys to your bladder (the pouch which stores the urine). These are called ureters. A kidney stone can be stuck anywhere along this tube. When the tube tries to squeeze the stone out, it causes terrible pain.

There are medications that stop the tubes from squeezing, such as ibuprofen (same medication as Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (same medication as Aleve). If these medications do not control the pain, you can try stronger pain medications that you may have been prescribed in the ER, such as Tylenol #3 or Percocet. These stronger medications can make you drowsy, so do not drive or operate heavy machinery when taking either of them. These medications usually also cause constipation, so take an over-the-counter medicine for constipation, such as Metamucil or Docusate, at the same time as taking these medications.

A third medication you may have been prescribed is called tamsulosin or Flomax. This medication opens up the tubes to allow the stone(s) to pass through. It can make you feel lightheaded when standing up, so stand up slowly while taking it.

You may have been given a strainer to pee into, along with a urine container. If you catch a stone in the strainer, put it into the urine container and take it to your family doctor. Your family doctor may send the stone to the lab to determine its type, as different types of stones may need different treatments.

It is important to stay hydrated, so you should drink a little more fluid than usual. Avoid caffeine (tea and coffee) and alcohol.

Follow up with your family doctor if the pain has not resolved within a week or so.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. Fever (≥38.0 °C or 100.4 °F)
  2. A burning pain with peeing every time you pee
  3. Repeated vomiting
  4. Unable to pee entirely