Your urinary tract is the filtration system for your body, but the organs involved help with a variety of other functions. Your kidneys, for example, function as blood pressure regulators and hormone and red blood cell producers. In addition to blood filtration and waste removal, your urinary system helps with electrolyte and fluid balance, reabsorbing necessary chemicals and aiding muscle and nerve functions.
Sadly, we don’t focus on these functions when dealing with two common conditions that affect it: kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Annually, over half a million people go to emergency care to get help with kidney stones, and 8.1 million go to get help for UTIs in the same timeframe. Both can affect basic functions of how the urinary system works, and both have possible complications that can make things worse. But, is there a connection between the illnesses? Is it possible that one can cause the other?
To find out more, let’s examine the two conditions in more detail, and see how one may lead to the other. If you live in the Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or South Florida area and you’re struggling with either condition and need relief, Drs. Craig Herman and Steven Kester and their medical team at the Urology Center of Florida can help.
Understanding kidney stones and UTIs
Let’s start with the hard, crystalline masses that can build up in your kidneys, called kidney stones, renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis. These stones come in different types, depending on the cause of the condition. Dehydration, the wrong dietary habits, obesity, digestive illnesses, and certain surgeries, medications and supplements can increase your chances of getting them. If you have them, you likely will experience any or all of these symptoms:
- Sharp pains in your side and your back below your ribs
- Radiating pain in your lower abdomen and groin
- Painful urination
- Oddly colored, cloudy, or smelly urine
- A persistent urge to urinate
- Chills if you have a fever.
UTIs, on the other hand, are the result of bacteria entering the urinary system and causing problems (often due to the Escherichia coli, or E. coli, bacteria found in your intestinal tract and in your feces) throughout your urinary tract. Due to anatomical differences, women are more likely to deal with them than men. Other causes:
- Catheter use
- Sexual activity
- Urinary tract blockages
- Immune system suppression
- Some forms of birth control
Many symptoms are similar to those of kidney stones, but pelvic pressure, bloody urine, burning urination, and passing small amounts of urine can occur with UTIs.
How one may cause the other
Results from several studies in Current Urology Reports have cited what is called a mutual coexistence of both diseases, with data indicating that up to 36% of cases had such an association. In fact, in the cases in which people had both conditions and the kidney stones were removed, the UTI cleared up, and removing the stones helped to prevent future recurrent infections.
So, while the chance of getting kidney stones with recurrent UTIs is not new information among experts, research tells us people with stones have an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Both have some similar symptoms, affect the same areas of the urinary tract, and can increase the chances of getting the other condition.
Whether you’re struggling with recurrent UTIs or kidney stones, we’re here to help you find relief and keep them from coming back. So, if you have the symptoms of either condition, make an appointment with any of our offices online or by calling today.