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This Month In Health
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  • Minerals, Pebbles, and Stones
    If you may think stones can only wind up inside one organ, you’re painfully wrong. Here are six places in your body where stones can form, what the symptoms are, and how they’re treated. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Minerals, Pebbles, and Stones

Stones form in more places than your kidneys. Here are five other possible places.

When a stone grows in your body, you may experience excruciating pain and discomfort. Sometimes, however, you don’t even know it’s there.

Usually made of minerals that build up and harden over time, stones can be harmless and resolve on their own or they can be dangerous to your health and require medical intervention to remove.

If you may think stones can only wind up inside one organ, you’re painfully wrong. Here are six places in your body where stones can form, what the symptoms are, and how they’re treated.

1. Kidneys

Perhaps the most well known type of stone is a kidney stone. Maybe you’ve experienced them yourself or know of someone who has. Most often made from minerals and salts that build up in the urinary tract and harden, kidney stones can be extremely painful, particularly when your body attempts to remove them. The pain may radiate to your back, hips, and ribs. Smaller stones may pass in your urine, but larger ones may require surgery or other treatment to break them up so they can be passed more easily.

2. Gallbladder

Another common place for stones to form is the gallbladder. This small, sack-like structure is connected to your liver, the organ tasked with storing bile, a fluid that aids in digestion. A buildup of cholesterol and bilirubin (a substance produced from the breakdown of red blood cells) can lead to the formation of gallstones. In most cases, gallstones are so small you don’t know they’re there. When gallstones do cause pain, you may need surgery to remove the gallbladder altogether.

3. Pancreas

Your pancreas is responsible for making hormones that maintain blood sugar levels and help digest food. A duct connects your pancreas to the small intestine, right next to the duct that connects the gallbladder to your small intestine. Sometimes gallstones pass from the gallbladder through the duct and get stuck, obstructing the flow of pancreatic fluid. This can result in acute pancreatitis, which causes inflammation, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and a rapid pulse.

4. Throat

Located on either side of the back of your throat, your tonsils’ job is to filter germs. But sometimes, food or other debris gets stuck in them and hardens into stones. Called tonsilloliths, these small white stones can cause a sore throat, bad breath, or the feeling like something is caught in your throat. Gargling with salt water may help or you can gently brush them off with your toothbrush. Talk with your dentist if you have recurring or large tonsilloliths.

5. Prostate

Men have a small gland called the prostate, which works to produce a fluid that protects sperm. Though all men are at risk for prostate stones, older men are most likely to experience them. In most cases, these small stones go unnoticed.

However, if the stones become infected, the prostate may become swollen, which can cause urinary tract problems. Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment. When that doesn’t work, more invasive treatments may be required.

6. Bladder

Stones can crystalize in the bladder when you fail to completely empty your bladder, you have an infection, or there’s foreign material in the bladder. Sometimes a kidney stone travels down to the bladder and gets stuck. Symptoms of bladder stones include abdominal pain, blood in your urine, burning when urinating, or frequent urination. Bladder stones usually require medical treatment to remove. In most cases, a procedure is performed to break stones into smaller pieces and flush them from the bladder. Larger stones may need to be surgically removed.

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