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Treating Kidney Stones: Expectant Therapy

Most kidney stones are about the size of a grape seed. Stones of this size are small enough to pass naturally. Once it is passed, a stone can be analyzed. This “wait and see” approach is called expectant therapy. Small stones can often be passed with expectant therapy. If pain is a problem, ask your doctor about pain medications. Then follow his or her directions on how much water to drink. Drinking more water creates more urine to “flush out” your stone. Also be sure to strain your urine. Take any stones you pass to your doctor for analysis.

Man drinking glass of water.

Drink lots of water

Drinking lots of water may help your stone pass. Water also dilutes the chemicals in your urine. This reduces your risk of forming new stones. You may be told to drink 8, 12-ounce glasses of water a day. Avoid liquids that dehydrate you, such as those containing caffeine or alcohol.

Strain your urine

Straining your urine lets you collect your stone for analysis. Use the strainer each time you urinate. Strain your urine for as long as your doctor suggests. Watch for brown, tan, gold, or black specks or tiny pebbles. These may be kidney stones.

Take your medicine

Your doctor may give you medicine that makes it more likely for you to pass the kidney stone. 

Follow up with your doctor

Follow up by taking any stones you find to your doctor for analysis. The type of stone you have determines your diet and prevention program. You may need more tests in the future. These tests will ensure that new stones are not forming.


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