Bladder stones are crystalline masses that are developed from the minerals and proteins found in urine. Bladder stones can start off very small but will vary in both their numbers and size. Bladder stones will begin when your bladder is unable to properly empty. Urine that is left in your bladder will stagnate and the proteins and minerals in the urine will begin to crystalize and form into bladder stones. Often in most cases there may be an underlying medical condition such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Men are more affected than women by bladder stones at nearly ninety-five percent.
Many patients with bladder stones may not experience any problems or show any indication of symptoms. However if a bladder stone irritates the wall of your bladder or if urinary flow is blocked, the following symptoms may occur:
● Lower abdominal pain
● Blood in the urine
● Painful urination
● Abnormally colored urine
● Frequent need to urinate
● Pain or discomfort in the penis (men)
● Difficulty urinating
A full physical examination will be conducted by your physician in addition to a digital rectal exam (DRE). Results of the rectal exam may show indications of an enlarged prostate or other prostate related problems. In order to attain a more accurate diagnosis additional testing may include one or more of the following:
Typically bladder stones are small enough that the stones can easily be passed through urination. It's recommend that individuals with smaller bladder stones increase their fluid intake to a minimum of at least six eight-ounce glasses of water a day. If the stones do not pass naturally or if symptoms begin to worsen further treatment will be needed. If further medical treatment is required some options include:
· Cystolitholapaxy: A cystoscope is inserted through the urethra and into your bladder to locate the stone. Your doctor will then use a laser or use ultrasound and proceed to break down the stone into smaller pieces to be flushed from the bladder.
· Surgery: In cases where the bladder stone is too large surgical removal is necessary. One such procedure is called a cystolithotomy. It’s an inpatient procedure done under general anesthesia where an incision is made in the lower abdomen in order to remove the stone directly from the bladder.
The simplest and perhaps most effective method to preventing bladder stones is drinking plenty of water. The increase in fluid helps in breaking down and preventing the formation of bladder stones. As to the exact amount of water you should drink on a daily basis to prevent the formation of bladder stones will require a consultation with your doctor.