Urinary retention is a condition characterized by the inability to empty the bladder completely

What is Urinary Retention?

What is Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is characterized by the inability to completely empty the bladder. In chronic cases, individuals may experience difficulty initiating urination or fully emptying the bladder.

Symptoms of chronic urinary retention can include frequent urination, urgency with little urination success, or a feeling of incomplete voiding even after urination. Acute urinary retention, on the other hand, presents as a complete inability to urinate despite having a full bladder, necessitating immediate medical attention.

While urinary retention can affect anyone, it’s more prevalent in men, particularly in their fifties and sixties, often due to prostate enlargement. In women, urinary retention can occur if the bladder sags or shifts position, a condition known as cystocele, or due to a sagging of the lower colon, known as rectocele. Nerve damage or disease can also interfere with bladder function, affecting people of all ages and genders.

The urinary tract encompasses organs, tubes, and muscles that collaborate to produce, transport, store, and expel urine. The upper urinary tract comprises the kidneys, which filter blood and produce urine, and the ureters, which transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The lower urinary tract comprises the bladder, a muscular sac that stores urine, and the urethra, a tube through which urine exits the body during urination.

When the bladder is healthy, it can comfortably hold up to 16 ounces of urine for 2 to 5 hours. Sphincter muscles help prevent urine leakage by tightly closing the tubes leading from the bladder. Nerves in the bladder send signals to the brain when it’s time to urinate. As the bladder fills, the urge to urinate intensifies, and when it reaches capacity, the brain signals the bladder muscles to contract and the sphincter muscles to relax, facilitating urine expulsion through the urethra.

Proper coordination of these signals ensures normal urination. However, disruptions in this process, such as nerve damage or obstruction, can lead to urinary retention.