Real Answers from Real Pilots

Starring ATP in 2 months - kidney stones!


I’m currently active duty Air Force about to retire with 20 years served. I’m 40 now, and it’s time to pursue the dream of being an airline pilot. However, I just experienced the most excruciating pain - kidney stones. I just past one today (phew:), but I was told I have multiple in each kidney… How will this affect my career in the airlines/medical certificate? I’m sure there are other pilots out there that have been in my position. Any help in this matter is much appreciated. I want to give this program 110%. Thanks


The first call that I would make would be to your FAA medical examiner to discuss your situation, they are the only people that can provide an official answer, chichis what you need.

My next call would be to the ATP admissions department to discuss your options with them.

My gut feeling is that you will not be allowed to fly until well after this situation is resolved, but please check with your FAA doctor on this.

I did find this article by AOPA, bear in mind that they are a group that is geared towards private pilots, not professional ones:



When it comes to commercial aviation kidney stones are a BAD thing. I’ve know a few pilots who’ve suffered from them in the past and in some cases it can be a career ender. First let me say the best advice I can give you is to contact your AME and have a chat and he can tell you exactly where you stand. That said kidney stones are my single greatest fear! (seriously) My wife told me the pain is worse than child birth and as I said I do know at least 1 pilot who’s been grounded. From what I understand (?) if you have 1 single episode you’re ok, BUT if there’s a second that’s when things get very complicated and you have to be tested (as I assume you were since you say you have multiple) and cannot return to flight duty until ALL are gone. Third episode and you’re grounded. Again I strongly suggest you contact an AME as I’m just giving you second hand knowledge.

On an related note a couple of years ago I had some pain which seemed to be kidney related. As I said I’m CRAZY paranoid about KS and called a friend who suffered from them in the past and he told me to run to the local health food store and by some Chanca Piedra (aka Stone Breaker). Now I am not a health food homeopathic tree hugging herbal tea drinking kind of guy but as I said this is a big deal for me. He told me his Dr had recommended it for any pain/discomfort and that he incorporate it into his normal vitamin regimen. I said what the heck and got some. My pain was gone the next day and I have never suffered any other discomfort in the last 3yrs I’ve been taking it. Honestly I don’t even know if I even had a stone but as I said the pain went in no time, I’ve been good and more important my friend who did in fact suffer hasn’t had a repeat in over 7 years. Just FYI.


Thanks Chris. There is a AF reserve flight surgeon on the base that is FAA AME certified, so I’ll be sure to get with him. Hopefully, it’s good news - thanks again!

Hahaha, Adam this message is for you… I have until Dec 4th until I start ATP, so I’ll see how everything goes till then. I’m hoping for the best. Thanks for all the info!

Good Luck and keep us posted.

You know this is my FAVORITE subject :slight_smile:



Congrats on your retirement. Hope you get this situation settled and enjoy your time at ATP

Thanks Jeremy! I’m definitely looking forward to it.