How To Differentiate Gallstones and Kidney Stones

    Gallstones and kidney stones are both painful to deal with and downright brutal, no doubt about it. They also signify to us that our body isn’t as healthy as it should be and that there are lifestyle changes worth considering.

    However, because these two conditions tend to have similar symptoms (such as severe pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting), one might find it hard to determine whether it’s gallstones or kidney stones that they might have.

    Here are some ways you can differentiate the two types of stones before receiving an official medical diagnosis.

    Location of Pain

    Gallstones vs kidney stones pain is perhaps one of the most obvious things to look at when trying to determine which of the two you may have.

    Gallstones tend to cause pain in the center or upper right section of your stomach, in your right shoulder, or between your shoulder blades. On the other hand, kidney stones moreso affect the lower back or lower abdomen or side. Gallstones, too, may trigger back pain but are more likely to trigger upper back pain.

    Apart from the location of the pain, the consistency of the pain can also vary between the two stones. In most cases, kidney stone pain is more consistent than gallbladder pain, which normally comes and goes.

    Urinary Symptoms

    Unlike kidney stones, gallstones don’t trigger urinary symptoms. Gallstones, however, may trigger light-colored stools.

    Urinary symptoms of kidney stones include blood in the urine, frequent urination, pain while urinating, having foul-smelling and/or cloudy urine, or even having difficulty urinating. For those unable to urinate, it’s critical to get medical care as soon as possible as this can cause a serious infection if not resolved.

    Causes and Triggers

    The causes and triggers of kidney and gallstones can also provide clues as to which of the two you may be suffering from. But only the proper medical tests can determine a diagnosis for certain.

    Not much is known as to what actually causes gallstones to form. Though, gallstones are usually caused or triggered by a high-fat diet and having too much cholesterol in the bile. Gallstones are most common in women, particularly age 40+.

    Kidney stones, however, are often caused, triggered, and worsened by not drinking enough water or frequently consuming foods containing too much salt or sugar. Unlike gallstones, men are more likely to be diagnosed with kidney stones. In fact, they are almost twice as likely as women to develop at least one in their lifetime.

    Both gallstones and kidney stones are more likely to appear in individuals with sedentary lifestyles, who are clinically obese, with family history of such, and in those with other pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes.


    It’s unfortunate to be diagnosed with either gallstones or kidney stones. The two are similar but also very different in their own ways. By considering the latter differences, you’ll be better able to determine which of the two stones you may be dealing with and, in turn, how to best care for yourself going forward.

    The Zigverve Team
    The Zigverve Team
    The dedicated team at Zigverve that aims at bringing you the best lifestyle updates from all over the world.

    Get in Touch

    Related Articles

    Get in Touch


    Latest Posts