Urine can become concentrated, causing minerals to crystalise into a hard mass in the bladder which is referred to as a bladder stone.
Bladder Stones do not always cause symptoms, but some can be very painful as they can irritate the bladder wall, cause blockages to urine flow and can also result in bladder infections.
Please note, it is essential to seek medical advice if you experience blood in your urine, abdominal pain or urination that differs from your usual pattern - e.g. needing to go to the toilet more frequently. If you have a painfully full bladder but are unable to pass water, you should go straight to A+E as this can be life-threatening.
The most common cause is when the bladder cannot be completely emptied of urine. The urine that remains in the bladder concentrates and stagnates, and the minerals within this harden into stones. The bladder may not be fully empty for the following reasons:
Also, diet can be a factor in their development as lack of nutrients (diet of high fat, salt and sugar) and fluids (dehydration) can alter the balance of chemicals in the urine. The best diet for prevention is low-fat and high fibre with plenty of vitamins.
Bladder stones can be diagnosed through urinalysis, ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan or cystoscopy (a thin camera inserted into the bladder through the urethra). They can vary in size and structure; some being smooth and round, others hard or spiked.
Sometimes it is possible to pass stones without any treatment, but generally they are extremely hard, will require a laser, ultrasound or other procedure for removal to prevent infections or scarring. Also, bladder stones can be an indicator of other diseases which must be investigated medically. Treatments will differ depending on the underlying cause.
It is thought impossible to develop stones (kidney, bladder or gall) without eating meat and dairy products. A vegan diet is therefore vital when healing. Also drinking plenty of water is thought to help dissolve hardened stones.
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