Kidney stones and gallstones are unbelievably common in the United States. Owing to similar names and some shared symptoms, people have started using the two medical conditions interchangeably. As licensed practitioners, this is extremely alarming as the two conditions have different prevention tips and treatment methods.
With the firm belief that misinformation is more dangerous than ignorance, we at Metropolitan Lithotriptor Associates have decided to put an end to this cycle of misinformation! Join us as we discuss in detail what the two conditions are and how they differ from each other.
What Are Gallstones?
Before we can understand what causes the formation of gallstones, we must first understand the function a gallbladder performs in human anatomy. For those of you who don’t know, this organ stores bile (produced by the liver and significantly simplifies digestion). All caught up? Good, let’s move on.
Gallstones are lumps that form inside either the bile duct or the gallbladder. As bile is made from components like cholesterol, water, and proteins, etc, obesity and high-cholesterol diets are the predominant cause of these deposits.
What Are Kidney Stones?
On the other hand, kidney stones are unchecked deposits of mineral on the kidney which impair the functionality of the organ (to filter blood) and cause crippling pain. There are numerous types of kidney stones, the most common of which are calcium oxalate stones (formed due to excessive amounts of calcium and oxalates in the bloodstream).
Symptoms of Kidney Stones and Gallstones:
Even though we now understand how gallstones and kidney stones are caused, the problem arises when people start discussing their symptoms. As most people don’t have the technical knowledge about these two conditions, they commonly think of them as the same ailment.
Just like gallstones, kidney stones are asymptomatic (i.e. have no symptoms whatsoever) and can impair your organs without you or your immune system ever finding out. However, once they get bigger, the problems with these conditions start to surface. Here are a few common symptoms of kidney stones and gallstones.
- Vomiting (which results in loss of appetite)
- Pain (below the ribcage)
However, this is where the similarities end between the two medical conditions. A simple way to differentiate between kidney and gallstones is to analyze the pain caused by them. The pain associated with kidney stones varies in intensity while the one caused by gallstones is constant.
Furthermore, if you have blood in the urine, you suffer from kidney stones. On the other hand, yellow skin and, in some rare cases, jaundice is a direct consequence of gallstones.
Prevention and Treatment:
The prevention of gallstones is relatively straightforward. All one needs to do avoid this serious medical condition is to eat and maintain a healthy diet. This will prevent the unhealthy buildup of cholesterol and can even induce weight loss in an individual.
Kidney stones are much easier to prevent than gallstones. One can significantly minimize the chance of kidney stones by staying hydrated, taking calcium and oxalate supplements together, and by limiting their red meat consumption.
As far as treatment is concerned, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (or ESWL for short) is effective against both conditions. The treatment revolves around the use of intense shock waves to crush these unwanted lumps and mineral deposits which are naturally excreted from the body in the form of urine.
So, whether you suffer from gallstones or kidney stones, lithotripsy is the treatment you’re looking for. We offer reliable kidney stones removal services in Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and other areas of New York and can provide you with instant relief and comfort.