The urinary bladder stores the urine formed by the kidneys. Sometimes, when the urine is concentrated, substances in it crystallize and form stones. In this article, we will talk about the signs and symptoms of bladder stones.
What Are Bladder Stones?
Before we deepen our knowledge about the signs and symptoms of bladder stones, let’s first define the condition.
Bladder stones also called bladder calculi, occur when you have a buildup of hardened minerals in the urinary bladder. Both men and women can have stones in the bladder, but studies show that it’s more common in men. This could be because of an enlarged prostate that blocks urine flow, although we still need more studies to confirm the link.
How Do Bladder Stones Form?
To understand how stones in the bladder form, we need to review some concepts about the urinary system:
- First, the kidneys work to filter our blood.
- Once the blood is filtered, the waste products and excess water will form the urine to be expelled out.
- From the kidneys, the bladder will step into its role to store the urine.
- You can find this organ in the lower abdomen.
- The bladder can relax and expand to be able to store urine.
- At the same time, it can also contract to let the urine flow to the urethra.
When we feel the urge to urinate, usually, we can empty the bladder completely. However, some circumstances and medical conditions may prevent complete emptying, making some urine stay inside the bladder for longer.
Now, some substances in that urine may start to “stick together,” to form crystals. These crystals, over time, will turn into stones.
The Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Stones
Believe it or not, but sometimes, bladder stones, even big ones, do not exhibit any signs and symptoms. Patients with small stones, on the other hand, often expel them in the urine easily.
However, when the stone irritates the lining of the bladder or when it blocks the urine flow, the following signs and symptoms may show up.
Lower Abdominal Pain
People suffering from bladder stones often experience pain or pressure in their lower abdomen. At times, the pain is described as severe.
Aside from abdominal pain, men could also suffer from pain around their penis.
Abnormally Colored Urine
Bladder stones also change the urine color. Healthy urine is usually transparent or pale-yellow, however, most patients report on having dark or cloudy urine when they have bladder stones.
On some occasions, you might also notice blood in the urine (hematuria). However, don’t expect that you will see bright-red blood. In most instances, the blood mixes with the urine causing it to look bright pink or cola-colored.
Difficulty when Urinating
Various reports from patients indicate that they have different forms of difficulty when urinating.
For instance, some say they are having a hard time emptying their bladder. This means that when they void, the urine flow is interrupted.
Another form of difficulty in urinating is being able to void only in certain positions. Of course, the positions vary from person to person.
Finally, you may also experience pain while voiding.
Frequent Urge to Urinate
Even though you might experience difficulty in urinating, you may still have frequent urge to urinate.
It’s worth noting that some people also lose control over their urination when they have bladder stones.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Aside from the mentioned symptoms above, a person with bladder stones might also have signs of urinary tract infection (UTI), such as:
- Passing small amounts of urine
- A general feeling of sickness
Finally, children who suffer from bladder stones may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- For boys, priapism.
Priapism is the condition where boys have a painful and persistent erection lasting for hours.
Please note that bladder stones in children is rare.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms of bladder stones, be sure to consult your doctor right away.
This is because untreated stones may result in some complications, namely:
- Chronic Bladder Problems. You might experience the signs and symptoms discussed above for an extended period. Additionally, untreated stones may lodge in the opening that connects the bladder to the urethra, causing blocked urine flow.
- Urinary Tract Infections. Aside from chronic bladder problems, untreated stones may also cause recurring UTIs, like cystitis.
Please take note that even stones that do not result in signs and symptoms can still lead to complications when left untreated.
If you want to prevent bladder stone formation, you can take the following steps:
- Increase your water intake. Try to have 2 to 3 liters of water every day as this may prevent concentrated urine.
- Void when you feel the urge. When you feel the need to urinate, don’t wait; instead, go to the bathroom and empty your bladder completely.
- Consider double-voiding. One way to ensure that you have completely emptied your bladder is through double-voiding. After your first attempt to urinate, wait for 10 to 20 seconds and try to void again. Double-voiding is often effective because it stimulates the bladder to release the urine left inside.
Finally, complete emptying of bladder requires that you do not rush. For this reason, take your time when voiding.
Despite the pain and discomfort the signs and symptoms of bladder stones bring, the outlook or prognosis is still good. Stones often do not cause lasting damage to the bladder, but they could recur if the root cause is not corrected.
Learn more about Bladder Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.