What are bladder stones?

Your urine is made up of thousands of different substances, from water to potassium to sodium. Usually when you use the restroom, you rid all of the urine in your bladder (the organ that holds urine).

However, if you can't completely empty your bladder, the substances in the leftover urine may begin to turn solid. These materials can stick together, forming a hard, sometimes painful bladder stone.

Symptoms of bladder stones

Bladder stones can block your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. Bladder stones can also hurt the walls of your bladder.

Symptoms of a bladder stone include:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Going to the bathroom often
  • Penis pain or discomfort
  • Trouble going to the bathroom
  • Blood in your urine
  • Dark or cloudy urine

Who is at risk for bladder stones?

Men are more likely to get a bladder stone if their prostate (the small organ that sits below the bladder) is enlarged. An enlarged prostate can affect how well you use the bathroom. If nerves related to the bladder are damaged by stroke or traumatic injury, it may also keep you from emptying your bladder completely. Urinary tract infections can also cause bladder stones.

In order to lower your risk for bladder stones, drink plenty of fluid all day long. If you have trouble using the bathroom, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later. Getting help early can prevent bladder stones.

Bladder stones treatment options

Some bladder stones may be small enough that they come out on their own when you go to the bathroom, though this may be uncomfortable or painful.

Your doctor may want to find out how big the bladder stone or stones are using imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds can all help your doctor see bladder stones.

If you have a large bladder stone, your doctor may need to break it up into smaller pieces. After you get medicine to numb the area around your bladder, doctors use special tools to go through your urethra into your bladder. Once tools are in the bladder, doctors can shake or burn stones apart and flush them out of your body.

Rarely, a bladder stone is so large and difficult to break up that you will have surgery to remove it.

If you have symptoms of a bladder stone, talk to your doctor today to help find relief.

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