Gallstones vs. kidney stones, common risk connection, treatment and prevention

Gallstones vs. kidney stones, common risk connection, treatment and preventionGallstones and kidney stones share a common risk connection as well as symptoms. A gallstone is a hard lump that forms in the bile duct or gallbladder. When bile contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin, then gallstones are formed. Kidney stones, on the other hand, form when there is insufficient fluid in the body, so mineral deposits form together to make stones.

Difference between gallstones and kidney stones

Gallstones affect approximately 20 percent of women over 40 and eight percent of men. Kidney stones send roughly 1,000 American adults each year to the hospital. Kidney stones are referred to as one of the most painful experiences a person can undergo, but gallstones can go symptomless for many years. When symptoms do occur in gallstones, pain can also be excruciating and sudden but usually doesn’t last for very long.


Gallstones can contribute to infection, which needs to be treated with antibiotics. For kidney stones to lead to infection there needs to be a blockage of urination.

Gallstones vs. kidney stones comparison chart

GallstonesKidney stones
What is it?Hard lumps that form in the gallbladderHard crystalline mineral matter formed within the kidney or urinary tract
Stone typeCholesterol, pigmentNephrolithiasis
Stone compositionCholesterol, calcium bilirubinateCalcium stones, struvite stones, uric acid stones, cystine stones
SymptomsPain below ribs, right shoulder, nausea, sweating, restlessness and feverPain below ribs, back, right shoulder, nausea, sweating, restlessness, fever, colicky pain (comes in waves)
CausesAge, ethnicity, obesity, crash diet, oral contraceptives, high-fat diet, statin drugsMineral and acid salts
Gender dominanceFemaleMale
DiagnosisCT scan, cholangiography, cholescintigraphy, blood cholesterol test, jaundiceCT scan, ultrasound, intravenous pyelogram
TreatmentCholecystectomy, ursodeoxycholic acid, ERCP, lithotripsyPain control medications, lithotripsy, inducing polyurea, surgery
PreventionVegetarian diet, low-fat dietDrink more water, avoid food with high oxalate content

Previous study shows link between gallstone and kidney stone risk

Previous study shows link between gallstone and kidney stone riskA study outlined that those who develop kidney stones have a higher risk of developing gallstones and vice versa. Obesity, diabetes and an unhealthy diet have been linked to the development of stones, but when researchers took those factors into consideration the association still remained.

Even though an association has been found, researchers are still puzzled about what links the two conditions because they have very difference causes – gallstones require cholesterol and kidney stones require minerals.

The researchers analyzed three different long-term studies of nurses and doctors who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires. More than 240,000 participants were followed for 14 to 24 years. Approximately 5,100 cases of kidney stones developed along with 18,500 cases of gallstones.

The researchers found that in those with a history of gallstones there was a 26 to 36 percent higher likelihood of developing kidney stones. A prior history of kidney stones increased the risk of developing gallstones by 17 to 51 percent.


Although the association between the two conditions is still unclear, it’s important that individuals use preventative methods to reduce the risk of both.

As both gallstones and kidney stones have similar prevention methods, staying hydrated, eating well – reducing cholesterol – and exercising are all integral ways to lower your risk of both.

Also Read : Gallstones Home Remedies and Diet Plan

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.


Related Reading:

Polycystic kidney stones causes renal failure, hematuria and kidney stones

Sarcoidosis, a kidney stones risk, diagnosed better using blood monocytes