Urinary retention treatment, prevention, and home remedies

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Bladder | Monday, August 14, 2017 - 02:00 PM

Urinary retention treatmentUrinary retention treatment is designed to rectify the problem of being unable to completely empty the bladder. Occurring more commonly in older men, urinary retention can be a serious condition that may lead to emergency urinary retention treatment.

Acute urinary retention happens suddenly and lasts only a short time. Chronic urinary retention, on the other hand, can be long-lasting and is likely caused by a medical condition. Acute variants can be potentially life-threatening, causing great discomfort or pain and requiring immediate medical treatment. Chronic variants of the condition permit a small amount of urine output, leading sufferers to feel they have not completely emptied their bladders.

Treating and preventing urinary retention

Treatment will differ depending on the severity of the condition. The following are potential treatments:

Bladder drainage: Involves inserting a tube — called a catheter — up through the urethra and into the bladder for drainage. Those suffering from acute cases of urinary retention will see immediate relief of their distressful symptoms. This procedure can be done in an office or in a hospital setting, with the patient receiving local anesthesia. In the rare case that the urethra is blocked — not allowing a catheter to travel upward — the doctor can pass the tube directly through the lower abdomen into the bladder. People with chronic cases of urinary retention may require intermittent, occasional, or long-term catheterization if other treatments do not work.

Urethral dilation: A treatment for urethral strictures — a cause of urinary retention — that works by inserting increasingly wider tubes into the urethra to widen the stricture. A stricture, by definition, is an abnormal narrowing of a passage that may be due to scar tissue. Local anesthesia is always utilized, and if necessary, the patient will receive sedation and regional anesthesia.

Urethral stents: Similar to stents placed in the heart to keep blood vessels open and flowing, stents used in the urethra help to keep urine flowing, bypassing any strictures. Stents work by expanding like a spring, pushing back on surrounding tissue. Stents can either be temporary or permanent. This procedure can be done in an office or in a hospital setting.

Prostate medication: One of the main causes of urinary retention is an increase in male prostate size. By treating this underlying condition, symptoms should ease up. Examples of prostate medication include dutasteride (Avodart) and finasteride (Proscar). Medication also exists to help relax the muscles of the bladder outlet and prostate, including alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), and silodosin (Rapaflo).


Prostate surgery: Benign prostate hyperplasia is a condition that may require surgery if medication is not successful. Surgical removal of enlarged prostate tissue through the urethra is commonplace. Removal of the enlarged tissue will usually relieve the blockage and urinary retention.

Internal urethrotomy: The repair of a ureteral stricture moving a special catheter through the urethra. A knife or laser is then used to open the stricture.

Cystocele or rectocele repair: These conditions are caused by weakened supporting tissue and muscles, which cause the bladder or rectum to fall. When this occurs, it can pinch or restrict the flow of urine through the urinary tract, leading to urinary retention. Stitches are used to tighten the affected areas, creating more support. Extra tissue is removed if necessary.

Tumor or cancer surgery: If a tumor or cancer is the cause of urinary retention, its removal may be warranted.

Natural remedies for urinary retention

If your urinary retention isn’t caused by something serious, natural remedies may be suitable. What follows are some things you can add to your routine to help get you started. We’ve also included a list of foods to eat and avoid.

Dandelion: Dandelion root has been used by native American Indians to treat kidney disease, heartburn, and upset stomach. It can also treat bladder inflammation and increase urinary output, as it contains diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Nettle: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, nettle has restorative properties that can help heal the bladder and kidneys. It’s also frequently used as a diuretic. Nettle is commonly consumed in tea form and should be enjoyed two to three times a day to reap its benefits. It should be noted that nettle may interact with supplements and medication, so it is advised to speak to a physician before using this herb.

Saw palmetto: A traditional herbal remedy for treating prostate enlargement. It is known for preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Saw palmetto also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Sarsaparilla: A commonly used homeopathic remedy for treating cystitis — inflammation of the bladder. Sarsaparilla is also helpful for treating pain associated with urinary stones.

Indian licorice: Containing natural antimicrobial properties, Indian licorice aids in the treatment of cystitis. It is suggested to crush 50mg of the root into a paste, boil it for 30 minutes, and strain it. Drink this tea about three times a week.

Foods to eat

Coconut water: Packed with electrolytes, coconut water is a well-known remedy for many problems affecting the urinary tract. It also has mild diuretic properties, promoting urinary output.

Pineapple juice: Acting in a similar manner to coconut water, drinking 100 percent pure pineapple juice can be a great alternative.

Carrot juice: When consumed regularly, carrot juice can help control urinary retention. Besides being healthy for you, it can also help relieve the burning sensation felt each time you empty your bladder.

Foods to avoid

Constipating foods: Constipation can be a cause of urinary retention, so avoiding the foods that cause them will be beneficial and improve bowel movement. Avoid processed foods such as white bread, sweets, hot dogs, French fries, and all fast food while you’re at it.

Artificial sweeteners: The National Association of Continence says that artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame K, may increase bladder discomfort. By avoiding these chemicals, you can give yourself the best chance of treating your urinary retention.

Acidic or spicy foods: These types of foods often cause bladder issues. Acidic foods include citrus fruit and juice, vinegar, and tomatoes. Spicy foods include hot peppers, curry, chili sauce and powder, barbecue sauce, and horseradish.

Living with urinary retention can be very discomforting and decrease your overall quality of life. It is important to seek medical attention right away when you’re suffering from serious urinary retention. If you think the cause of your problem is life threatening, don’t hesitate to see a medical professional.

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Related Reading:

Urinary bladder neck obstruction: Causes and treatments

Urinary incontinence types: Stress, urge, overflow, functional, mixed, and transient



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