Medical News Today: What to know about urinary retention

People with urinary retention struggle to empty the bladder. There are two types of urinary retention: chronic and acute.

Chronic urinary retention

This form of the condition develops gradually over months or years and lasts for a long time. The symptoms of chronic urinary retention include:

  • difficulty urinating, which may be constant or sporadic
  • needing to urinate again shortly after using the bathroom
  • having to strain to urinate
  • a weak stream of urine or a stream of urine that stops and starts
  • not noticing the sensation to urinate and, therefore, not emptying the bladder
  • repeatedly urinating in a short period
  • urinating more than eight times per day
  • incontinence, especially if a person does not seek treatment for urinary retention

Acute urinary retention

Acute urinary retention is a medical emergency that may occur due to a total blockage in the urethra or another part of the urinary system. Symptoms include:

  • a total inability to urinate
  • an intense need to urinate or the feeling that the bladder is full
  • swelling or pain in the stomach

Some people with acute urinary retention also have symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or chills. However, even without these symptoms, it is important to seek immediate treatment.

Some people do not notice any symptoms of urinary retention until they develop incontinence. People who have unexplained incontinence should, therefore, also see a doctor.

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