Causes and Diagnosis of an Enlarged Kidney

If you’ve been struggling with symptoms around one of the areas where your kidneys reside, then you may be wondering if you have an enlarged kidney. There are a few symptoms that show up as a result of an enlarged kidney but they don’t always make the condition an easy one to diagnose. In fact, so many of the symptoms of an enlarged kidney can be linked to other conditions that it will probably require a trip to the doctor in order to get true confirmation of an enlarged kidney.

Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to read up about the symptoms and to learn what causes an enlarged kidney. You might even find it interesting to learn how your doctor might go about making the diagnosis, should you decide that you want to go in for a checkup.

Symptoms of Kidney Enlargement

The pain associated with an enlarged kidney is one of the most prominent symptoms, not to mention that it’s also one of the first ones to be noticed. The pain usually manifests itself in the form of achiness or a tight feeling around the sides of the abdomen where the kidneys are. You may also feel a burning sensation while you urinate. The brunt of the pain is usually felt in the abdomen, around the bladder or in the pelvic area in general. As the kidney grows larger the pain spreads from the side of the abdomen to the lower back. Swelling may be visible in the lower part of the back; however this is more common in people who put on a lot of weight in a short amount of time for no known reason. Another symptom that you may notice is that you might feel the need to urinate much more frequently than normal or you might be urinating much less than usual.

Causes of Kidney Enlargement

One possible cause behind this condition is kidney stones. A kidney stone is a hardened cluster of particles that forms inside the kidney. There are different types of kidney stones depending on what substance the stone is made up of. The most common type of kidney stone is made up of calcium particles. Many individuals with a kidney stone aren’t even aware that they have one until it moves into one of the ureter tubes. This is when the real symptoms start to show up as the stone can block the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder which causes the kidney to swell with excess fluid. Pain in the abdomen and the back can become severe, the urine may be dark or even tinted with blood, and fever and nausea may occur.  

An infection of the kidney is another possibility to consider when the symptoms start to become really pronounced with little sign that things are getting better. Most kidney infections start off as a standard urinary tract or bladder infection that has been neglected and left to spread towards the kidneys. This type of infection is much more common in women because bacteria have easier access to the body through the opening of the vagina. The symptoms of a kidney infection include pain in the side of the abdomen and lower back, urinating more often than usual, burning or stinging feeling when urinating, blood in the urine, incessant urge to urinate, chills, and fever. A kidney infection can be treated but it is important that it be treated as early as possible, as an untreated kidney infection could actually lead to death.

Diagnosing and Treating an Enlarged Kidney

You can’t actually treat an enlarged kidney because it is the symptom of another condition. This means that in order to get your kidney back down to normal size and functionality you have to address the underlying cause.

If your doctor suspects that you have a kidney stone(s) then he/she will probably want to start out by taking an image of the abdomen such as a CT scan or an MRI. They may also conduct an ultrasound on the kidney or take an x-ray of the area. Once they are able to confirm the presence of a stone(s) then they will be able to advise you on the best form of treatment, which can sometimes vary depending on what the stone is made of. Medication can be prescribed to help your body break down the stone on its own. If the stones continue to remain after taking medication then your doctor may recommend that you undergo shock-wave therapy, which uses sound waves to break apart the stone.

If your doctor suspects that you have a kidney infection then he/she will most likely ask you to give a urine sample which will be tested for the presence of pus, blood, and bacteria. If the infection is confirmed but is not considered to be severe then you will likely be prescribed antibiotics to get rid of the infection. For severe kidney infections the patient will be hospitalized so that they can be given antibiotics through an IV, which will reach the bloodstream much faster, and also to monitor the patient for any life-threatening changes that may develop with a progressed infection.


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