Our bladder is situated in the lower pelvic cavity; its purpose is to store urine until it’s ready to be removed via the urethra. The organ itself is incredibly muscular: it’s made up of three layers of flexible, muscular walls that contract when we’re urinating. The bladder’s muscular walls expand as it fills up with urine; interestingly, we begin to feel the urge to use the restroom when our bladders are only about halfway full. They can, however, hold about a pint of urine.
There are various conditions that may develop in your bladder; one such condition is the development of bladder stones. They’re defined by the Mayo Clinic as being solid masses composed of minerals that develop when minerals found in highly concentrated urine crystallize, turning into “stones.” This generally occurs if you have difficulty totally emptying your bladder when you urinate. Bladder stones can also be caused by infections or other underlying conditions, such as prostate enlargement, damaged nerves, inflammation, or kidney stones.
Bladder stones that are small in size could be passed without assistance, but stones that are more modest in size could require medications or even surgery to be removed from your body. If left untreated, bladder stones could cause infections or other complications, such as urinary tract infections and chronic bladder issues.
Sometimes bladder stones (even when they’re large) can be asymptomatic. However, if one blocks urine flow or leads to irritation on the bladder wall, symptoms could include:
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Hematuria (bloody urine)
- Cloudy or abnormally dark urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Interrupted urine flow
While bladder stones may be difficult to prevent because they’re often caused by other underlying conditions, you may be able to decrease your likelihood of developing bladder stones by:
- Drinking lots of fluids
- Telling your doctor if you notice any unusual urinary symptoms
The Ezra torso and full-body scans screen your bladder for cancerous and precancerous states, as well as other actionable conditions. You can learn more about our screening options here.