When the body urine output dips below 500 ml per day in adults, the condition is termed as oliguria. This is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention as decreased urine output often indicates grave, life-threatening conditions like kidney failure. However, proper medical treatment can prevent any deleterious effects on the body. Let us have a look at the cause, symptoms and treatment of oliguria.
What Causes Decreased Urine Output?
One of the most common causes of low urine output in infants and adults is dehydration. Dehydration can be caused by various factors like diarrhea, vomiting, fever or lack of adequate intake of fluids. Kidney inflammation or damage to any of its parts can result in malfunctioning of the excretory system, thereby conducing to improper absorption of water and wastes from the bloodstream. This is why decreased urine output characterizes acute renal failure. Obstruction of the urinary tract by an enlarged prostate gland can also result in low urine output.
Low cardiac output, vascular collapse, hypovolemia (state of decreased blood volume) also results in less urine output. Consumption of drugs such as diuretics, anticholinergics, methotrexate, etc. also reduce the level of urine output. Moreover, intake of immunosuppressants, chemotherapy drugs or other antibiotics can cause harm to the kidney, thereby resulting in less urine formation.
Low urine output after surgery is a common post-operative complication. This can happen due to inadequate fluid replacement intra-and postoperatively. Moreover, during pregnancy low urine output can be a sign of preeclampsia (hypertension during pregnancy, accompanied by protein in urine). However, this is not a good sign and needs medical intervention immediately. So these were some factors that might result in low levels of urine output.
If you notice that your urine levels have been very low for a consistent period of time, then it is important to consult your health care provider. Moreover, if the decreased urine is accompanied by palpitation, lightheadedness, dizziness, high fever, pain or itching during urination, etc. you need to rush to the hospital. Your health care provider will perform a physical examination with diagnostic tests. The different tests that may be taken are as follows:
Blood Tests: A blood test helps detect the presence of urinary tract infection, anemia, abnormally high blood chemical levels which conduce to kidney stone formation, renal failure or bleeding disorders.
Urinalysis: The patient's urine is sent for tests in the laboratory, wherein it is checked for presence of white blood cells or leukocytes, red blood cells or proteins. If there is any inflammation in the kidneys or bladder it will be known through this test. The urine may be collected over a period of 24 hours to get as accurate results as possible.
Ultrasound: These tests help detect the status of existing masses of cells with the help of sound waves. By this test, the doctor will come to know if the mass is cancerous, is a fluid-filled cyst or is a solid chunk of cells.
Urine Culture: Bladder or kidney infections are detected by this test.
Besides these diagnostic tests, the doctor may also ask the patient to take intravenous pyelogram (IVP) test, Computed tomography scan or a cystoscopy.
The treatment of this condition will vary according to the causative factor. If consumption of certain drugs are causing this condition, then they will be stopped and replaced with a substitute. Moreover, if the kidney itself is damaged, then the patient will have to undergo dialysis. Drips may be given to replace the lost fluids during cases of vomiting, diarrhea, etc. so as to bring the patient out of dehydration. An urological surgery such as nephrostomy is required if decreased urine output is caused by obstruction in the urinary tract. In this surgery, temporary drainage of pooled fluid is drained out into a drainage bag, with the help of a ureteric catheter. If the output of urine is low due to a urinary tract infection, then drugs are prescribed to treat the infection.
In most cases, the cause of decreased urine output production can be treated and improved. However, it is important to note that identifying and seeking medical attention as soon as possible in case of oliguria, is vital for maintaining good health and preventing deleterious situations.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.