Urinary Retention: Care Instructions

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The urinary tract

Your Care Instructions

Urinary retention means that you aren't able to urinate. In men, it is often caused by a blockage of the urinary tract from an enlarged prostate gland. In men and women, it can also be caused by an infection or nerve damage. Or it may be a side effect of a medicine.

The doctor may have drained the urine from your bladder. If you still have problems passing urine, you may need to use a catheter at home. This is used to empty your bladder until the problem can be fixed. Your doctor may put a catheter in your bladder before you go home. If so, he or she will tell you when to come back to have the catheter removed.

The doctor has checked you closely. But problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any over-the-counter medicines. Many cold and allergy medicines, for example, can make this problem worse. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take.
  • Spread out through the day the amount of fluid you drink. Do not drink a lot at bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • If you have been given a catheter, or if one is already in place, follow the instructions you were given. Always wash your hands before and after you handle the catheter.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You cannot urinate at all, or it is getting harder to urinate.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in your urine.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any problems with your catheter.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.