“Some people with pain or other symptoms of a kidney stone go online to see what more they can learn,” says a new study. Another piece of evidence that highlights how online search query data can help researches to learn more about diseases.
Benjamin Breyer, MD, and Michael Eisenberg, MD, used Google Trends (former Google Insights for Search) to see if the “varying popularity of search terms would reflect seasonal and geographic differences in kidney stone prevalence.”
“Kidney stones” was the best search term they found to mirror trends obtained from hospital data.
In addition to variations due to weather, genetics, diet and obesity also contribute to the likelihood that one develops kidney stones. The impact of kidney stones varies not only by season, but also by geographic location. A region where rates are high throughout the Southeast has been dubbed “the stone belt.”
“Kidney stones vary by season and region – they are more common in warmer places and during hotter times of the year,” Breyer says. Nationwide, about 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women in the United States suffer kidney stones during their lives, and half who experience one will develop another.