What’s going on? Why do my kidneys hurt? Check out this breakdown of 7 possible causes.
Your kidneys have a vital function in the body. They remove the waste and excess water from your blood.
When you start to have sudden pain in your body, it can be scary to know that something is wrong.
You may be thinking, “why do my kidneys hurt?” and start to panic.
Keep reading to find out if any of these ailments may be what is causing your pain.
1. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones also called renal lithiasis, are small buildups that form in your kidneys. They are typically made of calcium and oxalate.
This can cause pain when they are moving or are passed out of the body through your urine. You could feel pain in your kidneys or in another part of the body.
2. Urinary Tract Infection
When an infection occurs, it means that bad bacteria has gotten into your body. A urinary tract infection happens inside your bladder or urethra.
A urinary tract infection can spread from your bladder or urethra to your kidneys. This is called pyelonephritis. Women have shorter urethras, which makes them more vulnerable to this condition.
3. Polycystic Kidney Disease
If you have cysts on your kidneys (or just one kidney), you may have polycystic kidney disease.
This can be serious and may eventually lead to kidney failure without treatment.
Polycystic kidney disease can happen to adults of any race or ethnicity. Generally, symptoms of this disease will start after the age of 30.
It is possible to only have pain on one side of the body with this disease, but it typically affects both kidneys. A common sign of polycystic kidney disease is high blood pressure, which can worsen the damage if left untreated.
4. Kidney Cancer
Although this is not the most likely reason your kidneys are hurting, it is a possibility that the pain is caused by kidney cancer.
It is not common in adults less than 65 years of age. In elderly persons, there are some cancers that can start in the kidneys and men are more susceptible.
Renal cell carcinoma is a tumor type that will generally only grow in one kidney.
There are no symptoms in the early stages, but advanced stage symptoms may include:
- Weight loss
- Pain in your side or lower back
- Blood in your urine
Risks associated with kidney cancer to avoid are smoking, overuse of OTC pain killers, and exposure to heavy metals.
5. Renal Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clots in Kidney Veins)
When blood is blocked and is unable to get to the kidney, it results in renal vein thrombosis. A possible cause of this condition could be a blood clot.
When there is a blood flow blockage, it generally happens on just one side. This means that you may have pain in just one of your kidneys.
A simple reason that you may be having pain in your kidneys is that you haven’t had enough water. If you are dehydrated, your kidneys will start to have trouble expelling the waste in your blood.
Dehydration can happen by not taking in more water than you’re expelling. This may happen from excess sweat, vomiting, or an overactive bladder.
7. Kidney Cysts
A cyst is a small sac filled with tissue that contains fluid, air, and other materials. They can grow in almost all parts of the body, including your kidneys.
A kidney cyst is generally not cancerous and also may not be noticeable due to the lack of symptoms.
If you feel pain, this may mean that the cyst has grown to be too large. It also might mean that the cyst has become infected or it has burst open.
Some symptoms you may experience due to the kidney cysts include:
- Sharp or dull pain in the side or lower back
- Abdominal pain
If the kidney cyst is large, it may cause hydronephrosis. This is when your kidney gets swollen because a cyst is blocking the urine flow.
What to Do When Experiencing Kidney Pain
Kidney pain should be taken seriously. The uncomfortableness you feel is your kidney signaling to your brain that something is wrong.
If you have kidney pain, it is best to not take any chances and visit a doctor as soon as you are able to do so.
The main types of doctors that deal with kidney-related ailments are nephrologists and urologists.
You may be wondering, “what is nephrology?” How is it different than urology?
Nephrology is a specialty in internal medicine and its focus is on managing diseases that impact the operations and function of your kidneys. Urology, on the other hand, is more focused on healing anatomical problems or structural issues within the urinary tract.
Both of these types of doctors may be able to help you, but it depends on what the cause of your kidney pain actually is. It is a good idea to visit with your doctor sooner rather than later to get a referral for a specialist in one of these areas.
If you are in immediate or severe pain, visit your local emergency room regardless of whether or not you have blood in your urine.
Why Do My Kidneys Hurt?
When you have kidney pain, there are a variety of things that your body may be trying to tell you.
It could be as simple as needing to drink more water and as serious as cancer.
Getting the answers you need means going to a doctor and talking about what you are experiencing. Instead of wondering “Why do my kidneys hurt?” and experiencing pain, you can get help now.
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