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Urinary Retention in Adults - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Author
Nobel Hygiene

Urinary retention is the inability to fully empty your bladder. This results in some urine being always present in your bladder, even after making multiple trips to the bathroom. 

It can affect anyone, but urinary retention in adults, particularly older males, is pretty common.

You could be suffering from either one of the two bladder retentions:

  • Acute urinary retention – this type of urinary retention can be life-threatening. It lasts for a short duration of time but happens suddenly and prevents you from peeing at all, even if your bladder is at its limit. 

  • Chronic urinary retention – this type of urinary retention develops over a long period of time. You can empty the bladder but not all the way. 

Urinary Retention Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of urinary retention differ as per their types.

Symptoms of acute urinary retention could look like:

  • Feeling pain in your lower abdomen

  • Feeling bloated

  • Feeling an intense and urgent need to urinate

  • Being unable to empty your bladder

Symptoms of chronic urinary retention could feel like:

  • Feeling pressure in your abdomen

  • Abdominal pain

  • Rushing to the bathroom too often

  • Difficulty in emptying your bladder fully

  • Urine flow that is weaker than usual

Causes of Urinary Retention

  • Losing strength in your bladder muscles due to ageing

  • Pelvic trauma or injury to the pelvic floor muscles

  • A bladder that has been overstretched, causing permanent muscle damage

  • Surgery in your pelvic region can give you temporary urinary retention

  • A bladder that doesn’t contract with enough strength or long enough to be emptied properly

  • Blockage or narrowing of the urethra 

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Pregnancy and childbirth are the primary causes of urinary retention in females

Urinary Retention Treatment

Urinary retention causes a lot of pain and suffering to the person. The good news is that urinary retention is completely treatable, and there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed.

 A doctor can help diagnose the problem. In some cases, you might be advised to seek treatment and further testing from a urologist, proctologist, or pelvic floor specialist. 

Your healthcare professional may treat your urinary retention by prescribing:

  • Antibiotic

  • Alpha-blockers 

  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors

  • A combination of a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor and an alpha-blocker

Now, we do not recommend you to go to town with these prescriptions on your own. Treatment is better left up to a professional. Your symptoms might need something that is not mentioned above, so it is best to visit your doctor. Urinary treatment at home might not prove effective in combating the issue. 

You might be recommended to undergo medical procedures or use some devices to treat urinary retention. Some of these are as follows:

  • Vaginal pessary for women

  • Urethral dilation

  • Transurethral water vapour therapy, or Rezum

  • Transurethral electrovaporization

  • Prostatic urethral lift, or UroLift

Signs of urinary retention are pretty obvious to spot. The problem becomes severe when we keep sweeping it under the rug. It is crucial that you seek treatment as soon as you notice something is wrong.