Urinary Retention

Fact Checked

Urinary retention, also called as inability to urinate, occurs when a person cannot empty his/ her bladder completely, or at all, regardless of wanting to pee. Urinary retention may either be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Acute urinary retention occurs is a medical emergency and is characterized by inability to urinate at all. On the other hand, chronic urinary retention is ability to urinate but incapable of urinating completely. Moreover, urination may be done frequently but there is little success or a feeling that one still has to urinate.

The urinary tract is comprised of organs, tubes and muscles that function together to create, transport, store and discharge urine in the body. Urine is made up of water and wastes that have been filtered from blood by the body’s kidneys. Although the bladder can store of up two cups of urine, when there is about one cup of urine in the bladder, a signal is sent to the spinal cord and brain and in return, a signal is sent from the brain to begin contractions in the bladder wall and to relax the internal sphincter muscle. When these signals from the brain are received, urine flows out of the bladder and down to the urethra. Urinary is then released when the external sphincter, a voluntary muscle, is allowed to release urine.

What Causes Urinary Retention?

Urinary retention is primarily caused by urethral blockage or nerve problems. The following are the most common causes of inability to urinate:

  • Blockage of urethra
    • In men: prostate enlargement from various causes
    • Injury
    • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Disruption of the system of nerves that links the urinary tract with the nervous system and brain
    • Spinal cord injury
    • Spinal cord tumor
    • Strokes
    • Diabetes
  • Infection
    • Urinary tract infection
    • Herpes
    • Yeast infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Vaginal birth
  • Surgery
  • Certain medications

What are the Symptoms of Urinary Retention?

Aside from inability to urinate, there are several symptoms that are associated with urinary retention. These include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen or lower back
    • Chronic causes are usually painless
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Weak urine stream
  • Leakage of small amount of urine
  • Inability to sense when bladder is full
  • Nocturia (waking up more than twice a night to urinate)
  • Fever

How Should First Aid be administered in Cases of Urinary Retention?

Always seek medical attention in cases of urinary retention. It is necessary to

Urinary Retention
Urinary Retention

have right diagnosis to give proper treatment to give relief from symptoms. However, if medical care may not be given immediately, there are several ways to stimulate the flow of urine, though medical care should not be delayed as much as possible, especially in cases of acute urinary retention.

  • Try to sit in a bathtub filled with warm water or running water in the bathroom.

Urinary retention is usually a symptom for an underlying medical condition and requires medical attention. This article serves to give hints when in cases where there is inability to urinate. To learn more about urinary retention and recognition of other signs and symptoms of medical conditions, enroll in First Aid Courses.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now Button

  • All 1staid.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional