What you need to know about bladder stones?

Bladder stones are hard lumps of mineral that can form in the bladder if it does not empty properly. When urine stays in the bladder for a long period of time, chemicals (these naturally occur in urine) react with each other to form crystals, which when hardened, become bladder stones. Some people will be able to pass the stones without any problems if they are small. Unfortunately, many people will experience symptoms with bladder stones, which are mainly caused by the flow of urine being blocked and the bladder wall becoming irritated.

Although anyone can develop a bladder stone, it is most common in men over the age of 50; these stones can be linked to an enlarged prostate. When the prostate becomes enlarged it can press on the urethra and therefore stop the bladder emptying completely. It is very rare that children will develop bladder stones.

Common symptoms associated with bladder stones include:

  • Severe pain in the lower abdominal area
  • For men pain in or around the penis
  • Blood in urine (haematuria)
  • Difficulty or pain when urinating
  • Urinating more frequently (during the night)

Treatments

Bladder stones will usually be removed during surgery, this procedure is called a cystolitholapaxy. A small tube is put in the bladder, with a camera on the end which is used to locate the stones. Next they will either be crushed, lasered or have ultrasound waves directed at them to break them up before they are removed.

People who have had a bladder stone before are likely to have them a second time. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk:

  • Drink 2-3 litres of fluid daily to lower the chemical concentration in your urine
  • Try to prevent constipation
  • Do not delay emptying your bladder
  • Wait a while after your first attempt of urinating and try again to ensure that the bladder is completely empty (this is called double voiding)
  • Avoid having a high fat, sugar or salt diet, as this can alter the chemical makeup in your urine
  • Ensure you are getting enough vitamin A and B

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.