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Distended Bladder

Distended Bladder

Distended bladder is a medical condition wherein, a person suffers from an inability to urinate despite an urge to do so. Learn about what causes this condition, what are its symptoms and how is it managed.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Distended bladder may also be regarded as urinary retention, where, as mentioned, the patient is not able to empty his bladder partially or at all, despite the urge to do so. In some people, this condition occurs suddenly and in some, it has a gradual start. Complications of an acute case of this condition include excruciating pain, excessive sweating, chest pain, anxiety and high blood pressure. More serious cases can lead to bladder damage, chronic kidney failure, or may give rise to a shock like condition.
Causes
# In older men, the most common cause of distended bladder is the condition called prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). The enlargement creates a blockage of the urethra which in turn causes incomplete voiding. Prostate cancer and prostate infection (prostatitis) can be the other causes.
# Nerves which serve as a channel of information between the bladder and the brain to control the muscles used in urination, may suffer from disruption. Conditions which may cause this include spinal cord compression, spinal cord tumor, strokes and spinal cord injury. Even an infection or a blood clot which may place pressure on the spinal cord, may indirectly be responsible for a distended bladder.
# Other causes are infection in the pelvic area or around the spinal cord, inflammation and swelling due to infection, surgery and certain drugs such as those used to tighten the urinary channel or certain antihistamines.
Symptoms
The most obvious symptom is the condition itself, that is the inability to urinate, despite an urge. Accompanying this, other symptoms may include pain in the lower abdomen, leakage of small amount of urine, straining, experiencing delay between trying to urinate and the flow actually beginning, back pain, fever and painful urination if somehow the person is able to urinate. Incontinence and nocturia may also be indicative of a distended bladder, as most of the time the bladder remains full.
Treatment
There are a few self-care measures which you can take up at home to manage the condition. In most cases, people feel the need to get medical assistance, as care at home is limited. Sit in a bathtub full of warm water and try to stimulate the flow of urine.
People who have undergone surgery or have recuperated from a medical illness, but have been affected by a problem of distended bladder, are advised to do more walking. Increase in physical activity helps facilitate urination. If all these methods do not turn out to be of much help, then it would be wise to get yourself evaluated by a doctor.
Acute cases of distended bladder which might cause severe pain and discomfort may be treated by inserting a Foley catheter through the urethra into the bladder. This device is a small flexible tube, which encourages drainage of urine into a bag connected to it. After use, the tube may be removed immediately, or kept for some more time, to ensure continuous drainage. In recent times, people suffering from this condition have found the use of certain implantable devices very useful. These devices are built to stimulate the nerves controlling the bladder, to help the patient urinate at the right time. Another treatment option is to go for a small implant in the body that helps in stimulating bladder control, by provoking the nerves that connect to the bladder.
Addressing the underlying causes of a distended bladder also forms a part of its treatment. For instance, if the condition has been caused by prostate enlargement, then patients are put on medication which might help in the treatment of both the conditions.