Acute Urinary Retention

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Acute urinary retention is the most common cause of the partial or complete inability to empty the bladder. The condition is also called urethral obstruction or urinary obstruction syndrome. Rapid urinary retention occurs when your bladder’s muscle is suddenly too weak to get rid of its contents, a condition is known as detrusor overactivity. If this happens repeatedly, you may develop involuntary urge incontinence—uncontrollable leakage of urine while coughing, laughing, or exercising.

Acute urinary retention can result from:

  • An enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH)
  • A kidney stone that blocks the urethra
  • Inflammation of the bladder or urethra (cystitis or urethritis)
  • Spinal cord injury (paralysis)
  • Some medications relax smooth muscle

In the bladder and urethra, which can cause urine retention. Certain medications that relax smooth muscle are: Anticholinergics Drugs used to treat heart failure Beta-adrenergic blockers Calcium channel blockers Some antidepressants Sedatives in the bladder and prostate, which can lead to urinary retention. For example, some drugs used to treat high blood pressure or anxiety are called alpha-adrenergic blockers.

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