Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
The inability to urinate, or urinary retention, 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. 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).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/6/2012
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Causes of Urinary Retention
Other Causes of Urinary Retention
Examples of Medications for Urinary Retention