Bladder stones

Introduction

Bladder stones are small deposits of minerals that form in the bladder. Common symptoms of bladder stones include:

  • pain when urinating, and
  • blood in the urine.

How common are bladder stones?

In the past, bladder stones used to be a widespread condition in the United Kingdom. This is because a major risk factor for bladder stones is a poor diet that lacks a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates.

However, due to an overall improvement in most people’s diets, today bladder stones usually only affect people with underlying bladder problems, where urine stays in the bladder for longer than usual.

If urine spends a long time inside the bladder, chemicals in the urine can begin to ‘clump’ together to form crystals. Over time, the crystals can grow larger and develop into bladder stones.

Conditions that are known to cause bladder stones include:

  • recurrent bladder infections,
  • having an enlarged prostate gland, and
  • spinal cord injuries that result in urinary incontinence.

Outlook

A range of treatment options are available for bladder stones, so the outlook for the condition is good. Treatments for bladder stones are usually effective in removing them, and invasive surgery (surgery involving major incisions) is not usually required.

However if the underlying condition that caused the bladder stone is not treated (or it cannot be treated), there is a risk that the bladder stones may return.

Drinking plenty of water is the best way to prevent the recurrence of bladder stones. See the ‘prevention’ section for more information about this.

Last updated: 04 October 2011

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