Urinary Retention: Does Drinking Water Really Help?
Urinary retention is a condition characterized by an inability to fully empty the bladder. The bladder serves as a storage tank for urine, a substance made by the kidneys after they have filtered out waste and extra water from your blood. Once made, the urine travels to the bladder where it will stay until a person is ready to urinate. In a healthy individual, the bladder can hold up to two cups of urine comfortably for up to five hours.
Urinary retention can occur for a variety of reasons. Among men, an enlarged prostate is the most common cause. Among women, bladder muscle dysfunction (cystocele) and urinary stones are the typical culprits. Individuals with this condition may experience:
- Difficulty starting the flow of urine
- A weak urine flow
- Feeling the need to urinate, but not being able to
- Leaking urine
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the need to urinate right after using the bathroom
Drinking Water & Other Home Remedies for Urinary Retention
Urinary retention is often treated by addressing the underlying condition. For example, prostate medication can help to shrink an enlarged prostate so it’s no longer pressing on the urethra, which can improve urine flow. Pelvic floor physical therapy may be helpful for women with cystoceles to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and reduce urinary retention symptoms.
There are also a variety of natural remedies that can address slow urine flow, the most common one being hydration. It makes sense to think that drinking less water can ease symptoms (less urine equals less retention, right?), but that’s actually not true. Water is essential to the function of the body and without it, blood vessels can’t deliver important nutrients to the kidneys. In turn, the kidneys will only be able to make highly concentrated urine that irritates the bladder. Therefore, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is one of the essential pieces of any treatment plan for urinary retention.
How much water you need per day depends on several factors, including where you live, your activity level, and your age. In general, the long-standing advice of drinking 8 cups of water per day is a good guideline to follow. And remember, liquids other than water can count towards that total, such as tea, coffee, sports drinks, and fruit juice. As long as you aren’t feeling thirsty on a regular basis and your urine is colorless or light yellow, you’re likely drinking enough water for your needs.
Chronic Urinary Retention Treated at Home
If you’re experiencing chronic urinary retention symptoms, it’s normal to feel anxious about leaving home to seek medical attention. After all, you likely want to be close to a bathroom in case you need to urinate suddenly. At DispatchHealth, we specialize in delivering high-quality healthcare in the comfort of our patients’ homes. All you have to do is request a visit and we’ll send a team to your home—it’s as easy as that. Our medical teams are fully equipped to handle a wide range of health concerns and arrive with a stocked medical kit that has many of the same tools and diagnostics as found in an emergency room.
Request a visit by contacting us via our website, the phone, or our app!
For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
Sources referenced in this article: