The short answer:
The short answer:
Numerous studies reported a strong association between gallstones and renal stones. The presence of gallstones could increase your risk to develop kidney stones and vice versa.
- Gallstones are solid masses in your gallbladder or/and bile ducts.
- Gallstones could cause urinary problems.
- There is a strong association between gallstones and urinary stones.
- Researchers reported that having gallstones is associated with an increased risk to develop kidney stones.
- Gallstones could lead to a change in urine color into brown or dark yellow due to the elevated bilirubin levels in your bloodstream when gallstones block the bile tract.
Do gallstones cause urinary problems?
In short, the answer is yes they do.
Many researchers reported that there is a strong association between gallstones and renal stones. Researchers revealed that the presence of gallstones could increase your risk to develop kidney stones and the opposite is correct.
Here are some evidence-based data to illustrate the association between gallstones and urinary problems.
- A recent study published in 2019 in the Journal of Nature evaluate the association between gallstones and kidney stones using a national sample cohort of the Korean population. The results clarified that gallstones increased the risk of renal stones, and renal stones increased the risk of gallstone formation.
- Another study published in the Journal of renal failure showed that:
- Gallstone disease is independently associated with nephrolithiasis (renal stones).
- Individuals with a history of gallstones were 54% more likely to report a history of nephrolithiasis.
- Another study involving 23.74 million people showed that
- The risk of developing renal stones was 1.68-fold higher in patients with gallstones than in patients without gallstones.
- The risk of renal stones was significantly higher in patients with gallstones than in the general population.
What is the association between gallstones and kidney stones?
Researchers attributed the association between gallstones and renal stones to the following hypothesizes:
- Both renal stones and kidney stones are associated with obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and hyperinsulinemia. These metabolic conditions lead to renal stone formation due to an increased formation of uric acid. It also leads to the formation of cholesterol gallstones due to increased hepatic secretion of cholesterol into bile as a result of these metabolic disorders (Ref)
- Obesity is a critical risk factor for gallstone formation because it influences the function of hepatic cells and affects the secretion of cholesterol. Also, obesity exerts a systemic effect on the function of the kidneys and enhances the formation of renal stones, mainly uric acid and infection stones.
- Gallbladder wall infection and inflammation are critical factors promoting the formation of stones. Also, infections play a role in the formation of renal stones because they influence urine alkylation. Thus, infection and inflammation play a critical role in stone formation (Ref).
- The incidence of both gallstones and renal stone disease increases with age.
The association between cholesterol gallstone and renal stone disease is of considerable importance due to the following cascade:
- Each condition is associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality (Ref).
- Also, the presence of renal stones disease is associated with an increased risk for myocardial infarction (MI) (Ref).
- As a result, people with gallstones and renal stone disease are most likely at an increased risk of overall mortality and cardiovascular diseases CVD (Ref).
What is the difference between gallstones and renal stones?
Both gallstones and kidney stones are common and can exist without causing any pain or problems. However, when they delocalized or increased in size enough to block the normal flow of urine in the urinary system or bile in the bile tract.
Both gallstones and renal stones have some similarities in some points such as the following points:
- Gallstones and kidney stones are common and they can exist inside your body without causing any health problems.
- They are painless and don’t require treatment unless they get big enough to block the regular flow of fluids in their respective body systems.
- Both types of stones are strongly associated with what you eat and what you drink.
- Also, both types of stones have characteristic episodic pain.
- Both types of stones have a high rate of recurrence.
Here is a simple illustration of the difference between gallstones and renal stones.
|Location||Within the bile system (gallbladder,||Within the urinary system (kidney, ureter, urinary bladder)|
|Size||Different sizes range from the size of a grain of sand to the gall ball||With different sizes that can range of a few centimeters.|
|Types||• Cholesterol stones |
• Pigment stones
• Mixed stones
|• Calcium stones |
• Uric acid stones
• Struvite stones
• Cystine stones
|National prevalence||Between 0.1% and 61.5% worldwide||between 2% and 20% worldwide|
|Prevalence in the USA||5.5% in men and 8.6% in women||10.6% in men and 7.1% in women|
|Risk factors||Age, obesity, sudden weight loss, gender (female higher than male), fat-rich diet, diabetes Mellitus, liver cirrhosis, estrogen treatment, low physical activity||Chronic kidney disease, poor hydration, abnormalities in calcium metabolism (hyperparathyroidism) increasing age, obesity, diabetes mellitus, warm climate, and high animal protein|
|Pain location||Sharp or/and intense pain in the upper right and center of the abdomen||Sharp or/and intense pain in the side and lower half of the backside. Maybe radiating pain in the lower abdomen|
|Characteristic symptoms||Juindace (yellowish skin and whites of the eyes)||Haematuria (blood in urine) may occur|
|Foods contribution||Fat-rich diet|
Full-fat dairy products
|• Diet rich in calcium oxalate. • Animal protein|
• Tea, tomato, rhubarb, nuts, spinach, and chocolate (they are high sources of sodium, calcium, phosphates, or oxalates
|Drinks contribution||Soda (containing phosphorus acids) Alcohol|
|Drinks lower your risk||Plenty of Water|
|Plenty of water|
|Recurrency||Yes, More risk to have gallstones after the first time||Yes, Recurrent kidney stones occur|
|Treatment||Oral medication could help in dissolving gallstones. Removal of the gallbladder with its gallstones in case of repeated episodic pain and recurrent attack.||Smaller stones can pass through the ureter to the outside with urine with the help of medication. Surgical removal may be required in certain conditions|
|Prevention||A balanced diet with lower fat content and high fiber. Avoid sudden weight loss Drink plenty of water.||Drinking plenty of water Decrease food rich in oxalates|
1. Do gallstones block urine flow?
No, gallstones cant block the flow of urine
Gallstones are located within your gallbladder and could block the flow of your bile into the digestive system. No anatomical connection between urine flow and the pathway of gallstones.
2. Can gallstones cause frequent urination?
Yes, in certain cases, gallstones could lead to increased frequency of urination.
Gallstones could increase your risk to have a urinary tract infection (bacteriuria). Accordingly, you could suffer from increased urination frequency due to a urinary tract infection secondary to gallstones (Ref)
3. What color is your urine if you have gallstones?
Your urine color could be changed into dark brown, or bright yellow in case of complicated untreated gallstones.
Gallstones could lead to blockage of the bile duct. Therefore, the trapped bile enters your bloodstream instead of the digestive system. The bile changes your urine color into bright yellow or brown color.
4. Can a urine test detect gallbladder problems?
urine test could help in the diagnosis of gallbladder problems though evaluating the levels of amylase. amylase and lipase enzymes which help in the digestion of carbohydrates and fats respectively.
The blood test is the specific test for diagnosis of gallbladder problems through evaluating the bilirubin levels (high bilirubin levels (Jaundice) due to complicated gallbladder problems).