Urinary retention: What to Expect at Home

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This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

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.
  • Drink fluids in small amounts throughout the day. 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.

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.

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 a catheter but urine isn't coming out.
  • 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.