Bladder stones are hard mineral lumps that can form in the urinary tract when it is not completely empty of urine. This condition occurs in people who have difficulty urinating, and can commonly develop in adult men aged 50 years and over.
Bladder stones do not usually cause any symptoms if they are small enough to pass in the urine.
However, in some cases, bladder stones can cause pain or other problems with urination. When that happens, the patient must immediately consult a doctor to remove the stones that have accumulated in the urinary tract.
If not treated immediately, urinary stones can cause infection or other complications.
Causes of Bladder Stones
The urinary tract is responsible for collecting urine from the kidneys until it leads to the urge to urinate. After passing urine, the urinary tract should be empty.
However, sometimes urine cannot be excreted completely when there is another medical condition triggering it. As a result, some of the urine remains in the urinary tract until substances in the urine stick together to form crystals.
Over time, the crystals formed will harden and gradually become stones.
There are numerous health conditions that can affect a person’s ability to urinate and empty the urinary tract. Some of these conditions include:
- Enlarged prostate in male genitalia. When men get older, they are prone to developing an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate will press on the urethra and block the flow of urine from the urinary tract.
- Nerve damage, also known as neurogenic urinary tract. When a person has nerve damage, the nerves in the urinary tract cannot function properly and cause urine to remain there.
- Cystocele, a condition that only occurs in women. When a person has cystocele, part of the bladder wall weakens and falls into the vagina and blocks urine from passing.
- Bladder diverticula, which are small sacs that form inside the urinary tract. Some people are born with this condition, but some get it because of an infection or other disease of the prostate.
- High-fat, sugar and salt diet, yet low in vitamin A and vitamin B. This type of diet has the potential to trigger increased chances of developing urinary tract stones.
- Kidney stones, stones that collect in the kidney but move away from the kidney and into the urinary tract, causing urinary tract stones.
When to See a Doctor for Bladder Stones?
Patients with bladder stones can consult about their condition with a urologist. If a person experiences frequent urination, is bleeding when urinating, and feels pain in the stomach – then it is best advised to see a urologist.
The doctor will make a diagnosis through a series of examinations. Generally, the first few tests performed are urine tests and blood tests. Blood tests can detect if the urinary tract is infected.
Meanwhile, a urine test is done by taking a urine sample to be tested under a microscope. Testing is done by looking at the amount of blood in the urine and the bacteria and crystals present in the urine. A urine test will also detect an infection in the urinary tract that usually triggers bladder stones.
Subsequently, the doctor may perform further tests with imaging tests through x-rays. This can help see the inside of the urinary tract and detect if there’s any urine blockage.
Additionally, there is also a cystoscopy, which is performed by inserting a small tube with a camera at the end into the urethra and directed into the urinary tract to find any stones.
Symptoms of Bladder Stones
Bladder stones do not always cause symptoms. If the accumulated stones are small enough, the stones will emerge from the urine stream when the patient urinates.
However, in most cases, people with bladder stones will feel pain and tenderness due to the accumulated stones. The most common symptoms may include:
- Bloody urine.
- Pain in the lower abdomen.
- Difficulty urinating or obstructed urination.
- Pain and burning sensation when urinating.
- Cloudy or darker urine
- For male, pain in the penis and testicles
- Urinating at a higher intensity than usual, especially at night.
Treatment for Bladder Stones
Treatment for people with small bladder stones is relatively easy. The main treatment is to consume lots of mineral water to help the stone pass by itself as the urine leaves the urinary tract.
However, if the patient has other health conditions that affect the ability to urinate, further treatment is necessary.
People with bladder stones need to undergo stone removal treatment. There are several treatments for that, namely:
- Breaking stones into small pieces. This procedure is called a cystolitholapaxy. First, the doctor will perform a cystoscopy to locate the presence of stones. Then, the doctor will use a tool to crush or break the stone and clean it from the urinary tract.
- Surgery, performed when the stone is too large and cannot be broken. The surgery is performed by opening the urinary tract and removing the stone directly.
The most common surgical procedure for bladder stones is called an open cystostomy. This is done by making a large cut in the abdomen and bladder. Through the wound, the surgeon will remove large stones buried in the urinary tract.
An open cystostomy can be painful and requires a longer recovery process than other methods. However, this method is the only effective method that can be used to remove large bladder stones.
Treatment Cost for Bladder Stones
The cost for bladder stones treatment varies, depending on size of the stone and treatment method given.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of bladder stones treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Bladder Stones
To prevent the trigger factors that form stones, the following are some preventive measures that can be undertaken:
- Surgical treatment of cystocele in women.
- Take medication to shrink an enlarged prostate.
- Take medication to treat nerve damage around the urinary tract.
- Bladder diverticula, surgical removal of an enlarged prostate and over time forming urinary tract stones.
In addition, there are other general preventive measures that can be taken such as:
- Drink lots of fluids, as fluids can dissolve the concentrates of minerals in the urinary tract.
- Immediately consult a doctor if you experience unusual symptoms related to urine.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Bladder Stones
Patients diagnosed with bladder stones can carry out treatment at home by taking medicines regularly as prescribed by the doctor, especially for patients who are required to take medication to improve the condition of the urinary tract.
In addition, the most simple treatment is by increasing the consumption of mineral water. Apart from helping to remove stones, consumption of mineral water can also help to prevent stones from forming again.
For patients who have undergone surgery, it is advisable to rest at home. This will help minimize activities that put pressure on the lower abdomen.