Bladder stones, at times, may cause no symptoms. However, when present, the symptoms of bladder stones may include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- In men, pain or discomfort in the penis or testicles
- A burning sensation or pain during urination
- Frequent urination (urinating more than usual) or a sudden strong and severe urge to urinate (urine urgency)
- Difficulty urinating or interrupted urine flow
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy or abnormally dark urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- The presence of small, gravel-like stones mixed in with urine
- Stones may scrape against the wall of the bladder or urethra, causing a urinary tract infection. As a result, patients may develop a fever, which is sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
What are bladder stones?
Bladder stones are small, hard masses of minerals that form in the bladder and are usually developed when a patient’s urine is very concentrated due to a lack of sufficient fluid. This may happen due to dehydration or when the flow of urine is interrupted, making it stay in the bladder for a longer time. Bladder stones may also form because of bladder infection or the presence of foreign material in the bladder.
- The stones may vary in shape. Some are near-spherical, whereas others are irregularly shaped. These stones can be small enough to pass through the urine or large, which will require a medical procedure to remove them.
- Bladder stones are often found when a patient complains about another condition related to the lower urinary tract.
- This is because symptoms of related conditions often manifest before the stones cause pain.
- However, on occasion, these stones may be the primary cause of pain even if there are other conditions.
Bladder stones can form if the bladder is not emptied, or they may be caused by any of the following:
- Prostate gland enlargement (due to conditions, such as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia)
- Pelvic organ prolapse in women
- Narrowing of the urethra
- Neurogenic bladder (decreased bladder control caused by nerve damage)
- Urinary tract infection
- Having medical devices in the bladder, such as an indwelling urinary catheter (a thin, flexible tube inserted into the bladder and left in place to drain urine) or an accidental migration of a contraceptive device or urinary stent into the bladder
- Past surgery of the urinary tract, including augmentation cystoplasty (a procedure to enlarge the bladder to improve its function)
How are bladder stones treated?
Treatment depends on the size and cause of the bladder stones. Small stones may pass easily by drinking plenty of water. This may not be effective if the stone is big or the outflow of urine from the bladder is interrupted. The doctor will also treat other conditions that caused the bladder stones to form.
Treatment may include:
- Drink plenty of liquids
- The healthcare provider may recommend drinking up to eight (eight-ounce) cups of liquids each day to flush out the stones through urine.
- This may also help prevent bladder stones from forming again.
- A procedure that uses energy to break the bladder stones.
- The stone pieces are flushed out of the body through the urine.
- May be needed to remove large stones that cannot be broken apart with lithotripsy.
Treating the cause of the stones is necessary because removing the stones without correcting the root cause may result in a recurrence. If left untreated, bladder stones can lead to
- Chronic bladder dysfunction (frequent and painful urination)
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney damage due to infection
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Penn Medicine. What Are Bladder Stones? https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/bladder-stones
Cedars-Sinai. Bladder Stones. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/b/bladder-stones.html
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