Bladder stones – An overview
Bladder stones (bladder calculi) are the cluster of minerals formed in your bladder where the urine is stored until excreted. The minerals form these stones from the urine. They do not cause trouble when they are small in size because they pass out easily. When they develop into hard masses, you may need treatment or surgery, as per your medical practitioner’s advice.
If unnoticed bladder stones can get you into serious trouble, you may suffer from infection, bleeding, urinary tract problems and pain while urinating. You may as well suffer from long-term urinary tract problems.
Let us get to know the terms related to bladder stones.
Bladder: The bladder is a hollow muscular organ of your body wherein the waste products (like inorganic salts, creatinine, ammonia, urea and water) extracted from the kidney travels through the narrow tubes called ureters and get stored in the bladder.
Calculi (calculus) is a medical term that denotes the clumps of minerals in your organ or any part of your body. Calculi refer to stones in general.
Gallbladder stones: The gallbladder is a small organ situated beneath your liver. It stores the bile juice, which is secreted by the liver. Bile juice helps in breaking down and absorbing the facts. Gallbladder stones are clumps of hard minerals formed as stones in your gallbladder. There is no clear cause for the gallbladder stones, mostly formed from the excess deposit of fluids in the gallbladder.
Kidney stones: There is a high difference rate in addressing bladder stones and kidney stones. The hard cluster is formed from the salt and minerals inside the kidney. If the stones get passed through the ureters and reach the bladder, they are referred to as bladder stones.
What are the expected symptoms of bladder stones?
Your body gives various symptoms for different disorders to indicate the disturbance in normal body functioning mechanisms. Symptoms of bladder stone can be listed as,
- Blood in urine
- Irritation, pain and burning sensation while urinating
- Unbearable pain in the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Change in urine colour
- Interruption or difficulty while urinating
Symptoms may get severe at the chronic stage of bladder stone because of the irritation created by the stone.
What are the causes of bladder stones?
Bladder stones get stuck inside the bladder and later develop into clusters of hard lumps. The lumps also form when the urine stays longer in your bladder, one of the significant causes of bladder stones. Other common causes include:
- Urinary tract infection
- Nerve damage
- Bladder augmentation surgery
- Bladder diverticula
- Bladder inflammation
- Kidney stones
Cystocele (prolapsed bladder) is a disorder in females. This is the condition where the walls of your bladder become weak and drop down into the vaginal walls, thus causing trouble in urination.
How are bladder stones diagnosed?
You have to undertake the X-ray and CT scan, along with a physical examination by a physician or doctor.
Physical examination: A physical examination will follow the symptoms you mentioned to your doctor. Your doctor will check if your abdomen (belly) is bloated. Then follows the elaborate discussion of your bladder stone symptoms.
Urine test: Your urine sample will be examined to track if you are suffering from any urinary tract infection and review the level of blood, salt and other minerals.
CT scan, X-ray and ultrasound tests: All these tests will aid you in seeing a clear image of the bladder. The ultrasound can detect stones despite their shapes and size.
Cystoscopy: In this process, your doctor will examine your bladder through a cystoscope. A small tube with a camera is sent through the urethra and this proceeds further to the bladder. Through cystoscopy, you can get a clear image of your bladder, which helps examine your bladder and check for stones.
What are the treatment options for curing bladder stones?
If you have the symptoms of bladder stones, consult a Urologist (who treats and diagnoses urinary tract-related problems). If the stones are small in size, you don’t have to fuss about it because they will pass out with urine, causing bearable pain.
The bigger the stone is, the greater the problem. Depending on the size of the problem, your doctor will recommend the apt bladder stone treatment for you.
Cystolitholapaxy: A surgical procedure to treat bladder stones. First, you will be diagnosed by the cystoscopy method to locate the bladder stone. If the size of your stone is possible to break down, the doctor will use a laser or ultrasound to break down the bladder stone into small pieces. Then, the broken stones are washed away with the fluid.
Surgery: A surgery happens when the size of your bladder stone is bigger than the normal size and if it is impossible to be treated by Cystolitholapaxy. Then your doctor will perform surgery by an incision near the pelvis and remove the stones.
How to prevent bladder stones?
Bladder stones can be prevented once the stones are formed, but there are possibilities.
Drinking water: Water helps to dilute the mineral in your bladder. If you take plenty of water, you may avoid the risk of getting bladder stones. Check with your doctor about your intake level of water.
Treating early: Do not overlook the symptoms that your body indicated. Try to check with your consultant and make sure you follow the prescription to avoid the risk.
When should I consult a doctor?
Do not wait until the symptoms get severe. Take the doctor’s advice immediately if you feel like having the symptoms of bladder stones. If you overlook your symptoms, it may lead to an increase in the growth of stones in your bladder.
Every part of the body has its own function, which is essential to lead a healthy and balanced life. Do not restrain yourself from conveying your problems to your doctor; this will worsen your condition. Be outspoken about your symptoms. Only then will you be provided with beneficial treatment that suits your health condition.
Dehydration is a major cause of bladder stones other than a medical condition. Early treatment of your bladder stones relieves you from the symptoms, stops the growth of stones and prevents you from serious health hazards.
Do people with bladder stones also have kidney stones?
Stones that develop in the kidneys are different from bladder stones. Their growth varies from one another. However, small kidney stones can pass through the ureters into the bladder. If these stones are not passed out, they can develop into bladder stones.
Can children get bladder stones?
Children are less likely to develop bladder stones or calculi than adults.
Can bladder stones cause cancer?
Bladder stones and infections raise the risk of bladder cancer. A history of large bladder stones indicates chronic bladder irritation, which is a known risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma.
Can you feel a bladder stone come out?
If they’re small enough to pass out of the bladder while urinating, they might not cause any symptoms, and a person may not feel the stone coming out.
However, because the stones either irritate the bladder wall or obstruct the flow of urine, most people with bladder stones experience symptoms. In some instances, a person with a bladder stone feels the stone passing out.
What happens if bladder stones are left untreated?
Untreated bladder stones can result in chronic urinary problems like pain or frequent urination. The passageway where urine leaves the bladder and enters the urethra can become blocked by bladder stones, which will prevent urine from passing through.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are more likely to happen if bladder stones aren’t treated.
What helps break down bladder stones?
Lasers, crushing forceps or ultrasound waves transmitted from the cystoscope helps break bladder stones, which can then be flushed out of the bladder.
How long can a stone sit in the bladder?
A stone less than 4mm (millimetres) in diameter may pass in one to two weeks. A stone larger than 4mm in size may take two to three weeks to pass completely. Once the stone enters the bladder, it usually passes within a few days. It sometimes takes longer, especially in older men with large prostates.