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What are kidney stones, and how can they lead to sepsis?

What most people know about kidney stones is that they tend to produce the worst pain anyone has ever felt. More than likely, that's because the stones need to pass through a small opening through which only liquid usually passes.

If not treated aggressively and properly from the first signs of them, they could lead to an infection, and then to sepsis, which could easily become life-threatening.

What are kidney stones, anyway?

Urine contains many substances that ordinarily don't pose any threat as they pass. The most common include those listed below:

  • A crystalline compound called uric acid
  • Calcium
  • A by-product of urinary tract infections called struvite
  • An amino acid called crystine

When these and other compounds fail to pass normally, they can form crystals or stones, and no one is really sure why it happens. What is known is that dehydration plays a role in their formation since you failed to ingest enough fluids to wash these substances out of your body. Anyone can develop kidney stones, but some people are more susceptible to certain kinds of stones than others are.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

You may not be able to tell that you have kidney stones until they leave your kidneys. However, if you experience the following symptoms, you may have them:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain that moves from your groin down to the testicles for a man
  • Severe, sharp and cramping pain in the side of your back or abdomen

If your doctor suspects you have kidney stones, but simply sends you home with orders to drink more fluids without investigating further, your situation could get progressively worse. You could contract an infection that could lead to sepsis. Some kidney stones require aggressive treatments, including surgery, in order to give you relief. If your condition required more than just an order to hydrate, but your doctor failed to take further action, you are the one who pays the price.

Even if you did receive treatment in a timely manner to take care of the stones, your doctor may have missed the fact that you already had an infection that later got out of control. If you ended up with sepsis due to kidney stones, the possibility exists that you did not receive the appropriate standard of care. If so, you could explore the possibility of filing a medical malpractice claim.

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