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What are the Best Kidney Stone Medicines?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Kidney stones are masses that resemble pebbles and can cause tremendous pain in the lower back and abdominal regions of the body. There are several types of kidney stone medicines available, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Some medications are designed to lessen the pain caused by the stones, while others are aimed at helping to break up the stones. Depending on the type of stone, medications can sometimes be given to try to prevent stones in patients who are known to develop frequent kidney stones.

Over-the-counter pain relievers are often used as kidney stone medicines. Ibuprofen and aspirin are popular choices, although these non-prescription medications do not often provide significant pain reduction for kidney stone sufferers. Many times, prescription pain relievers are better choices as kidney stone medicines. Hydrocodone is the most widely prescribed pain medication for this type of pain.

Kidney stone medicines such as alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed to help the stones pass more quickly. These medications work by relaxing surrounding muscles and opening blood vessels. Alpha-blockers are traditionally used to treat prostate problems and high blood pressure, but doctors have found that they may also help in the passing of kidney stones.

Scientific studies have shown that once a patient has had more than one kidney stone the patient has a higher risk of developing more stones in the future. Kidney stones can be made from various substances, so in cases of repeated stones it may be wise to ask the doctor to test the stones in order to determine the types of stones present in the individual patient. Once this has been determined, kidney stone medicines may be prescribed that are aimed at preventing further episodes.

The majority of kidney stones are made from calcium. For the patient with these types of stones, kidney stone medicines such as thiazides may be prescribed. These medications work by reducing the amount of calcium in the urine, thus reducing the chances of developing calcium stones. Some potential side effects of thiazides may include decreased potassium levels in the blood, erectile dysfunction in men, or a worsening of diabetic symptoms in those with diabetes.

Kidney stones may occasionally be formed from substances other than calcium. There are kidney stone medications available to try to prevent each type. It should be noted that each type of kidney stone medicine used for prevention can have serious side effects. The patient should discuss any potential concerns with the doctor and report any adverse side effects right away.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1004926 — On May 16, 2021

Strong opioids are definitely a must for a severe kidney stone. I have a high pain threshold, but I’ve had kidney stones put me on my hands and knees a few times over the years.

A shot of dilaudid seems to be the only drug that takes the edge off, followed by OxyContin pills.

I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking 1.5 liters of water when I get up each morning, and continue with a lot of fluids all day. This seems to mitigate the problem.

By Cageybird — On Jan 27, 2014

When I had my first kidney stone attack, I don't remember the doctor recommending anything more than a strong pain medication. They gave me a shot of Demerol when I first arrived at the hospital, then hooked me up to a regular IV when I got to my room. The Demerol didn't really stop the pain, but it did change my attitude towards it. If you don't mind acting a little spaced out, Demerol might not be such a bad idea until the stone passes.

After I passed the stone three days later, I was prescribed some heavy painkillers, but that was it. I think the best medication for me was a lifestyle change. I cut out sodas almost entirely, and I avoided dairy products just before bedtime. Part of my problem was dehydration, because I was working long hours in a hot restaurant kitchen and not taking enough breaks. Now I carry bottled water wherever I go.

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