Stones can develop in different areas of your urinary tract, with kidney stones being the most prevalent. Of these stones, bladder stones account for about 5% of cases, so they’re not all that common.
Still, they occur often enough that the team of urology experts here at Arizona Urology feels that bladder stones warrant their own blog post. More to the point, we want to focus on early signs of bladder stones so you know when to seek our help.
In the following, we review how bladder stones develop and the four most common symptoms that are associated with this condition.
The making of bladder stones
Your urine is chock full of waste products, which your kidneys filter out of your blood and turn into urine that you can expel. Your bladder acts as a holding area for your urine, and, when it’s full, you release the liquid.
If you can’t completely empty your bladder and some urine is routinely left behind, hard crystals made up of uric acid, salt, potassium, and other waste products can form.
Men over 50 are far more prone to bladder stones than other groups, thanks to the increasing prevalence of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) as men age. As your prostate enlarges, it can become more difficult to completely empty your bladder, making you more susceptible to these stones forming.
Beyond BPH, other risk factors for bladder stones include frequent urinary tract infections, nerve damage around the bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse in women.
Bladder stone red flags
Bladder stones can range in size — small ones can develop and exit with your urine, and you’re none the wiser. If bladder stones grow large or numerous enough, however, they can start to create symptoms, such as these four:
This is usually one of the first red flags regarding stones of any kind, including bladder stones. This pain may feel like a burning sensation when you urinate, or you might experience a dull ache in your lower abdomen. Please note that if the pain is severe and you can’t urinate, this is a serious blockage that requires immediate medical attention.
2. Frequent urination (or urges to urinate)
Another common sign of bladder stones is the need to pee more often, especially during the night. This urge can even strike right after you’ve just urinated.
3. Unsteady urination
When you have bladder stones, your urine flow might start and stop while you pee, or it may be difficult to initiate urination.
4. Changing color
With bladder stones, your urine often changes color — becoming darker or cloudy. You might even notice a pink or red tinge in your urine, which signals the presence of blood.
Treating bladder stones
If any of the symptoms above sound familiar, it’s a good idea to come see us. During your visit, we can review your symptoms and use advanced imaging, such as ultrasound, to check for bladder stones.
If you have bladder stones, we can help resolve the problem in different ways — we start conservatively using medications to help the stones pass on their own. If they don’t, we use a cystoscope to remove the stones from your bladder.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, first let’s determine whether bladder stones are behind your symptoms. To get started, contact one of our locations in Goodyear, Gilbert, or Glendale, Arizona, to set up an appointment.