Pregnancy

How pregnancy impacts kidney stone development and treatment

If the idea of passing a kidney stone during pregnancy sounds unpleasant, here’s some good news: It’s estimated that stone formation only happens in one out of every 1,500 pregnancies. Some physiological changes that occur while pregnant may increase your chances of developing a stone, yet others decrease the likelihood. All in all, it is thought that pregnant women are at no higher risk for stone formation than non-pregnant women.

Physiological Changes

Changes during pregnancy that impact stone formation include:

  • A rise in your cardiovascular system output
  • Increased filtration activity in your kidneys
  • More calcium released into your urine and absorbed by your intestines
  • An increase in other urinary substances that help prevent stones, such as citrate
  • Dilation of your upper urinary tract (including your kidneys and ureters) due to compression from the uterus and effects of hormones

Symptoms

Common symptoms of a kidney stone during pregnancy include:

  • Nausea and occasional vomiting
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain in your sides, lower back or abdomen

If you are pregnant and think you have a stone, talk to your doctor or seek medical care.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because of the need to limit X-ray radiation to your growing baby, diagnosing a kidney stone during pregnancy is a challenge and may lead to a less certain treatment plan. Your doctor may also be concerned about the potential health risks of stone surgery, if that is the recommended option.

That’s why prevention may really be your best medicine. Make sure to maintain a high intake of water. Drinking a lot of fluids will dilute your urine and make it less likely for a stone to form.

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