Kidney Stones: How to Decide to Go to the ER or the Urologist

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Kidney stones can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the type and severity. It can be tough to tell if you have kidney stones, let alone whether or not you’re in immediate need of medical attention. So how do you know if you should go to the ER or a urologist for your kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small salt crystals that form from several different substances in the urine. They can cause severe pain, kidney infection, and other damage. Because 1 in 11 people will develop kidney stones in their lifetime, you should know when to rush to the ER or when to schedule an appointment with a urologist.

Common, Non-immediate Symptoms:
  • Side, pelvic, or lower back pain
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Persistent or painful urination

These symptoms are concerning, but not urgent. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a urologist to receive an evaluation in case you need treatment.

Here are the kidney stone symptoms that usually require a visit to the emergency room:
  • Fever
  • Severe, persistent pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Urine blockage
  • Foul smelling or cloudy urine

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms related to kidney stones you should promptly visit the emergency room. Doctors will be able to perform an evaluation and determine if the kidney stone needs to be removed surgically or allowed to pass naturally, or if your kidney stones have caused a more serious underlying condition.


Remember to research your symptoms and be able to recognize the signs. If you or a loved one has indications that kidney stones are present, call your doctor to take the first step in your recovery.

To schedule an appointment with a urologist, call RAMC at 608-524-6487 or visit our urology page.

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