Both kidney stones and gallstones are things that you may often hear about, but it’s important to know the difference between the two.

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones (also known as renal calculi, urolithiasis, or nephrolithiasis) are hard deposits (made of minerals and salts) that form inside of your kidneys. The smaller the stone, the easier it is to pass on its own. However, stones that range between 4 and 6 millimetres will typically require some time of treatment. In some cases, a kidney stone can pass without you even knowing it – while in other cases, passing a kidney stone can be quite painful.

Who Gets Kidney Stones / What Are the Risk Factors?

The risk factor of developing kidney stones is 9% in women, and 11% in men. Other risk factors for developing kidney stones include things like not drinking enough water/dehydration, consuming diets that are high in sodium (salt) and protein (it’s recommended that you avoid high-oxalate foods), having certain digestive diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis), obesity, having a family history of stones, and even being on certain medications.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?

Common symptoms associated with kidney stones include severe pain on one side of your lower back, stomach pain that persists, nausea and/or vomiting, fever and/or chills, cloudy urine, and blood in the urine.

Kidney Stone Treatment?

As mentioned, most kidney stones (up to 80% of them) will be small and will pass on their own, therefore not requiring any treatment. However, if you are unable to easily pass a stone, then you may be prescribed a medication known as an alpha blocker. This type of medication will help relax your ureter muscles and allow you to pass the stone easily and with less discomfort. In cases where a stone is unable to pass or is causing a blockage, more extensive treatment may be required – including use of sound waves to help break up the stones, or even surgical removal.

What Are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hard deposits (stones) that form in the gallbladder. These stones form as a result of bile (a digestive fluid) forming into solid particles – often due to an imbalance of the chemical make-up in the bile – such as high cholesterol or bilirubin .

Who Gets Gallstones / What Are the Risk Factors?

Gallstones can occur in both children and adults, though they are more common in middle-aged adults – and also tend to be more common in women than they are in men. There are other factors that may increase one’s chances of developing gallstones, such as being over the age of 40, living a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight or obese, consuming a high-fat diet, having certain medical conditions (such as diabetes), as well as pregnancy.

Gallstone Treatment?

It is possible for gallstones to go away on their own. In some cases, dietary changes can help reduce complications as a result of having gallstones. However, if gallstones become problematic (i.e., start causing pain or other issues), then you may need to have surgery.