Bladder Stones: Causes and Symptoms
Bladder stones are hard masses of mineral that has developed from concentrated urine inside your bladder, and it is often caused by the inability of the bladder to void urine completely. Other causes of bladder stones include UTI, foreign objects in the bladder, and dislodged kidney stones turning into bladder stones.
In some cases, bladder stones are harmless and pass through the urinary tract without symptoms, but other times bladder stones can lodge in the bladder wall, causing irritation and discomfort. The stones can also block the bladder neck, where the bladder meets the urethra and blocks urine from entering the urethra.
This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of bladder stones.
Bladder stones causes
There are many causes of bladder stones, here are some of the common ones:
Chronic urinary Retention
Bladder stones commonly occur as the result of chronic urinary retention, which refers to the inability of the bladder to void completely. When urine is retained and concentrated in the bladder routinely, the minerals and protein in it can collect and become bladder stones.
If you have urinary retention, your doctor may prescribe you intermittent catheters to help void your bladder. Intermittent catheters are thin hollow tubes inserted into the bladder several times a day for a short duration to drain urine completely.
Chronic urinary retentions are often caused by some other underlying condition such as:
An enlarged prostate is a common cause of urinary retention in men. The prostate is a gland that sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra (a tube that leads urine out of the bladder). When the prostate enlarges, it can obstruct the urethra, and urine will be retained in the bladder.
Cystocele (bladder prolapse)
The pelvic muscles and tissues that support the bladder can weaken and the bladder can drop from its original place. This can lead to urinary retention and thus increases the risk of bladder stones. Cystocele is more common in women than in men.
Neurogenic bladder syndrome
Neurogenic bladder syndrome is the malfunction of the bladder caused by nerve damage. The bladder can become underactive, which means it can lose the ability to sense when it’s full and doesn’t contract to squeeze urine out; the bladder can also contract with lesser power and for a shorter duration, all of which lead to urinary retention.
Diabetes, stroke, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, etc are all potential causes of the neurogenic bladder.
Foreign object in the bladder
Sometimes medical devices such as urethral stents or eroded surgical mesh can migrate into your bladder and become stones. Indwelling catheters that are left in the bladder for an extended period of time can also have bladder stones form on its surface. In one case, pubic hair had been carried inside the bladder through catheterization and became a bladder stone.
Urinary tract infections can also trigger the formation of bladder stones. The risk of UTI is increased by urinary retention. In women, sex can increase the risk of UTIs.
Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys and are much more common than bladders stones. When the kidney stones descend into the bladder, sometimes it can stick to the bladder walls and become bladder stones.
Symptoms of bladder stones
These are some of the common symptoms of bladder stones:
- Frequent urination, especially at night (nocturia)
- Bloody, dark, cloudy urine
- Pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen and groin
- Frequent UTIs
If you suspect that you have bladders stones, please consult a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may diagnose you though CT scan, urinalysis, X-ray, ultrasound, or another method. If the bladder stones are too big to be flushed out by drinking lots of water, surgery may be needed.
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