In case you missed it, Anna Kendrick recently revealed her struggles with kidney stones on Twitter:

So, what are kidney stones?

Kidney stones, or renal calculi as they’re also known, are made up of waste chemicals. They can be really small – as tiny as a grain of sand – or as large as a golf ball, and there are different types of them.

How do you know if you have a kidney stone?

While Anna clearly knew she had a kidney stone, that’s not always the case. The truth is, kidney stones can cause no symptoms at all. But if a stone blocks the entrance of your urinary tract, or is in the process of being ‘passed’ (coming down your urinary tract), it can be incredibly painful. In fact, the pain of passing a kidney stone can be so bad, it’s often compared to childbirth. The pain is usually located around the lower back and can move across to your front. It can even cause you to feel nauseous or vomit.

When you have kidney stones, your urine may become cloudy or you may notice blood in your wee. Because they can block the urinary tract, kidney stones can also lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can cause fevers and chills.

How do you get kidney stones?

In most cases, there’s no clear reason why people develop kidney stones. That said, they are more common in men than women. According to Better Health Channel, the risk of men developing kidney stones is 1 in 10, while for women it’s about 1 in 35. Kidney stones are more common in people who take certain medication (such as for cancer or HIV), and in people who have certain medical conditions, especially those that affect your levels of calcium or oxalate. Recent research also found that taking antibiotics may also increase your risk of kidney stones.

If I’ve had a kidney stone, am I likely to have another?

Unfortunately, if you’ve had a kidney stone, your risk of getting a second one is higher. Better Health Channel states the chances of developing a second kidney stone is around 5-10% each year.

Can you avoid them?

There are some measures you can take to reduce your chances of developing kidney stones. Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated can help. Avoid drinking too much tea, coffee, coke and beer. There are also medications that can help reduce the chances of developing a stone, so if you’re worried about recurring stones, speak to your doctor. While chatting to your GP, check that none of the medications you’re on are contributing to your risk of recurrence, and ask about dietary recommendations.

What should I do if I have a kidney stone?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of kidney stones such as pain, nausea, vomiting or changes in your urine, see your GP. If you ever develop severe abdominal pain, seek urgent medical assistance.

How do you treat kidney stones?

Thankfully, the majority of kidney stones pass on their own. According to Better Health Channel, this process usually takes around 3-6 weeks. You may need pain relief during this time. If the pain is really bad, you might need to be in hospital for this. Less commonly, you may require treatment for kidney stones. The type of treatment may depend on the size of your stone, and where it is located. Treatment may include having a scope, or possibly surgery.

As for Anna, she hasn’t posted any updates on her condition, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that her brush with painful kidney stones is well and truly over…

Dr Evelyn Lewin is a qualified GP who has completed a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology. Along the way, she also had three kids and developed a massive coffee addiction (mmm, coffee). Nowadays, she works as a freelance writer.

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