Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Symptoms of urinary retention include the inability to urinate, which occurs when an individual is not fully able to empty his or her bladder, despite having the urge to urinate. Urinary retention may be an acute (happening suddenly) or longstanding (chronic) problem in both men or women and can be associated with other bladder problems or abnormalities within the pelvis. Urinary retention is more common in men than women and increases in frequency as men age. Any condition that results in a physical blockage of the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the bladder) can result in the inability to urinate. Another cause of urinary retention is a defect or disruption in the function of the nerves that control urination. Some medications can cause or worsen urinary retention. Examples of these include general anesthetic agents, stimulants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and others) and phenylpropanolamine (Dexatrim and others), and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, U.S. National Institutes of Health, http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/UrinaryRetention/
Main Article on Urinary Retention
Causes of Urinary Retention
In This ArticleBenign Prostatic Hyperplasia Article
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia facts
- What is the prostate gland?
- How does the doctor detect prostate enlargement?
- What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?
- When does benign prostatic hyperplasia start?
- What happens in BPH? What are symptoms of BPH?
- How common is BPH? Are there any risk factors?
- Is BPH a type of cancer?
- Is BPH always treated?
- How is BPH treated?
- Are there other non-cancerous prostate problems?
- Can prostate problems be prevented?
In This ArticleBladder Infection (Cystitis) Article
- What is a bladder infection?
- What causes bladder infections?
- What are some risk factors for bladder infection?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in women?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in men?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in children?
- How is a bladder infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a bladder infection?
- Are home remedies effective for a bladder infection?
- How is a bladder infection during pregnancy treated?
- What are potential complications of a bladder infection?
- Can bladder infections be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for a bladder infection?
In This ArticleConstipation Article
- Constipation facts
- What is constipation?
- What causes constipation?
- Medications that cause constipation
- Other causes of constipation
- What are constipation symptoms?
- How is constipation diagnosed (evaluated)?
- Exams and tests
- Imaging studies and other tests
- What treatments are available for constipation?
- Dietary fiber and bulk-forming laxatives to treat constipation
- Other laxatives to treat constipation
- Other laxatives and OTC products to treat constipation
- Prescription drugs to treat constipation
- Other treatments for constipation
- What is the approach to the evaluation and treatment of constipation?
- When should I seek medical care for chronic constipation?
- What is new in the treatment of constipation?
In This ArticleCystocele Article
- Cystocele facts*
- What is a cystocele?
- What causes a cystocele?
- How is a cystocele diagnosed?
- How is a cystocele treated?
- Where can people find more information about prolapsed bladders?
In This ArticleDiabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Article
- Diabetes facts
- What is diabetes?
- What is the impact of diabetes?
- What causes diabetes?
- What are the different types of diabetes?
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Other types of diabetes
- What are diabetes symptoms?
- How is diabetes diagnosed?
- Why is blood sugar checked at home?
- What are the acute complications of diabetes?
- What are the chronic complications of diabetes?
- What can be done to slow diabetes complications?
In This ArticleInterstitial Cystitis (IC) Article
- Interstitial cystitis facts
- Overview of urinary function
- What is interstitial cystitis (IC)?
- What is the cause of interstitial cystitis?
- What are interstitial cystitis symptoms and signs?
- How is interstitial cystitis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for interstitial cystitis?
- Are lifestyle modifications of value in the management of interstitial cystitis?
- Are there any special concerns about interstitial cystitis?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) of interstitial cystitis?
In This ArticleProstate Cancer Article
- Prostate cancer facts*
- What is prostate cancer?
- What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
- How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
- Prostate cancer biopsy
- The accuracy of the PSA test
- What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
- What are the stages of prostate cancer?
- What is the prognosis for prostate cancer?
- What are the treatment options for prostate cancer?
- Watchful waiting
- Radiation therapy
- Hormonal therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Monoclonal antibody therapy
- Research techniques
- Complementary and alternative care approaches
- Prostate cancer prevention
In This ArticleProstatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate Gland) Article
- Prostatitis facts
- Prostatitis definition
- What causes prostatitis?
- What are the risk factors for prostatitis?
- What are the signs and symptoms of prostatitis?
- When should I see my doctor for prostatitis?
- How is the diagnosis of prostatitis made?
- What is the treatment for prostatitis?
- What are the complications of prostatitis?
- What is the prognosis for prostatitis?
- Prostatitis conclusion
In This ArticleStroke Article
- Stroke facts
- What is a stroke?
- What are the different types of stroke?
- What causes a stroke?
- What are the risk factors for stroke?
- What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What are the warning signs of a stroke?
- What are the symptoms of a stroke?
- How is a stroke diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for stroke?
- What is the prognosis for stroke?
- Is recovery after a stroke possible?
- What is stroke rehabilitation?
- Can strokes be prevented?
In This ArticleUrethral Stricture Article
- Urethral stricture facts
- What is the urethra?
- What is urethral stricture?
- What are the causes of urethral stricture?
- What are the symptoms and signs of urethral stricture?
- What type of doctor treats urethral obstruction?
- How is urethral stricture diagnosed?
- Are there any special tests for diagnosing urethral stricture?
- What is the treatment for urethral stricture?
- What surgical options are available for urethral stricture?
- Can urethral stricture be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for urethral stricture?
Other Causes of Urinary Retention
- Bladder Stones
- Congenital Anatomical Abnormalities
- Heavy Metal Poisoning
- Infection of the Prostate
- Neurogenic Bladder
- Pelvic Infection
- Spinal Cord Compression
- Spinal Cord Tumors
- Trauma to the Pelvis
Examples of Medications for Urinary Retention
Symptoms & Signs A-Z List
Find out what women really need.