We hardly consider basic bodily functions until they become a problem. Pain with urination or in your lower back can be alarming requiring intervention.
Did you know that UTIs and kidney stones have extremely similar symptoms that appear similar, but they affect your body in different ways? Treating the symptoms requires a proper diagnosis. This is not a time for self-diagnosis. Here are ways to learn the differences between the two conditions. (Kidney Health, 2019)
What is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?
A UTI is an infection that can affect any part of the urinary tract, including the bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys. The urinary tract is responsible for passing urine and eliminating waste from the body. Bacteria causes UTIs in the urinary tract. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men with 20% of women getting at least one UTI in their lifetime.
Kidney stones are hard collections of salt and minerals often made up of calcium or uric acid. They form inside the kidney and can travel to other parts of the urinary tract. About 1 out of every 11 people in the United States will get a kidney stone. Stones are more common in men, people who are obese, and those who have diabetes. (Self, 2019)
Symptoms – Kidney Stones vs UTIs
Kidney stone symptoms are in common with other types of UTIs, such as cystitis and urethritis. Symptoms include, a painful or burning sensation when urinating, an urgent feeling like to urinate often but passing a very small amount, bad-smelling urine with blood, and abdominal discomfort
In addition to the symptoms above, some more specific symptoms can indicate that your infection has moved into your kidneys. These symptoms could be fever, chills, pain in the lower back, or nausea along with the above-mentioned symptoms.
Causes – Kidney Stones vs UTIs
UTIs occur when bacteria make their way into the urinary tract and begin to multiply, which can lead to symptoms. Women are more likely to develop more UTIs than men because the female urethra is shorter, which means bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to establish an infection. If left untreated, these UTIs can continue to spread upward into the kidneys.
Kidney stones are generally the result of a less severe UTI’s progression due to lack of treatment, but they can sometimes occur in other ways as well. When there is not enough water to dilute the uric acid, a component of urine, the urine becomes more acidic. An excessively acidic environment in urine can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Diagnosis – Kidney Stones vs UTIs
UTI is diagnosis is made by analyzing a sample of your urine. The urine sample can confirm the presence of things like bacteria, blood, or pus. Even more than this, doctors prefer to get a cultured test from a urine sample. (Healthline, 2019)
UTIs can be treated with a course of antibiotics. The type of antibiotic can depend on the type of bacteria that’s causing your infection as well as how severe your infection is. Severe kidney infections require hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics and fluids intravenously.
Treating kidney stones is primarily focused on symptom management. Passing a stone can be very painful. In some cases, a urologist can perform a shock wave therapy called lithotripsy. This is a treatment that breaks the kidney stone into smaller pieces and allows it to pass.
People with large hard to reach stones may require surgery to remove stone.
Minimize the Risk
You can help prevent UTIs or Kidney Stones by following some simple steps:
- Drinking plenty of fluids. This helps to keep your urine dilute and ensures that you urinate frequently, which flushes bacteria out.
- Several foods have a positive impact on kidney health. Basil, celery, apples, grapes and pomegranates are suggested additions to your diet. These can help reduce both the risk and impact of kidney stones.
- Being obese can put stress on the kidneys. Managing weight and diet are key to a healthy urinary tract.
When to Seek Medical Help
Pain can be severe and can cause disruptions to everyday life. Give yourself a head start to the ER as UTI’s and Kidney Stones are not a wait and see approach for resolution and will get worse without intervention. Knowing what is happening will prevent further complications. A facility with radiology services and an in-house pharmacy will get you comfortable and on the way to proper healing quickly.
Watson, Stephanie. “8 Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones.” N.p., 20 Oct. 2017. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-of-kidney-stones
Carolyn L. Todd and Korin Miller. “8 Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones You Need to Know.” SELF. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. https://www.self.com/story/kidney-stone-signs
“Kidney Disease.” Learn about Your Kidneys | Kidney Disease – American Kidney Fund (AKF). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems/kidney-stones/
Seladi-Schulman, Jill. “Kidney Infection vs. UTI (Urinary Tract Infection): Symptoms and More.” Healthline. Healthline Media, 20 Dec. 2018. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-infection-vs-uti#see-a-doctor