Proper urinary elimination is a key indicator of your overall health, especially as you get older. If your ability to urinate is impaired, it can cause a wide variety of other conditions.

Impaired urinary elimination is a term, often used by nurses, for conditions that make it difficult for a person to urinate. Impaired urinary elimination can include retaining urine, urinating frequently, experiencing incontinence, and more.

This symptom can be both painful and frustrating, and it can lead to a loss of bladder of control. If it isn’t treated, it can result in complications such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney damage.

The treatment for impaired urinary elimination depends on the underlying cause and on your other symptoms. Possible treatments include medication, catheterization, pelvic floor exercises, increased fluid intake, and bladder retraining.

There are several possible causes of impaired urinary elimination. Some of these causes are temporary and can be resolved quickly, while others are chronic and need careful management.

Common causes of impaired urinary elimination include:

The signs and symptoms of impaired urinary elimination can depend on the cause and on the person. Common signs and symptoms include:

Impaired urinary elimination can lead to multiple complications if it’s not treated. Exact complications can depend on the underlying cause and on the symptoms.

Possible complications include:

  • UTIs: UTIs are a common side effect of any impaired urinary elimination. They happen because bacteria are normally cleared out of your urinary tract during urination. When your normal urination is impaired, bacteria can collect, and an infection can develop.
  • Kidney infections: Without treatment, it’s possible for UTIs can spread to your kidneys. This can lead to serious illness.
  • Bladder damage: Urinary retention can stretch the bladder. This can cause the muscles in your bladder to become weak, making it harder for them to work correctly.
  • Kidney damage: Urinary retention can cause urine to back up into your kidneys. This can put pressure on the walls of your kidneys, which can damage them. The kidney damage from this pressure can lead to serious kidney problems such as chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
  • Urinary incontinence: Your bladder can leak urine when it doesn’t fully empty. This is called overflow incontinence.

There are several ways to treat and manage impaired urinary elimination. The right care plan depends on the cause of the impaired elimination and on the severity of the symptoms.

Medical professionals such as nurses, physicians, and caregivers can help set up and oversee treatment for impaired urinary elimination. Common treatment options include:

  • Medication: Prescription medication can help calm the muscles in your bladder to reduce symptoms of an overactive bladder.
  • Bladder retraining: Bladder retraining might involve scheduling bathroom visits every few hours, measuring fluid intake, receiving assistance to stimulate bladder muscles, or a combination of all of these methods.
  • Increased fluid intake: Increasing the amount of fluid you drink can help your kidneys and bladder function.
  • Decreased caffeine and alcohol: It’s important to drink more water and other hydrating liquids but reduce beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine, which can increase bladder issues.
  • Catheter insertion: A catheter can help empty the bladder. Often, catheters are a short-term solution while other treatments are taking place.
  • Pelvic floor exercises: Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. This can improve control over the flow of urine.
  • Physical therapy: Improved mobility can help someone improve their muscle strength and their ability to stick to a bathroom schedule.
  • Hygiene assistance: Caregivers and nurses can assist people who are experiencing incontinence with hygiene concerns to prevent UTIs and skin breakdown.

Impaired urinary elimination is used to talk about difficulties during urination. This can include a range of trouble with bladder and urination function, including urinary retention, incontinence, and urinary frequency.

There are multiple causes of impaired urinary elimination. Some causes, such as pregnancy or recent surgery, are temporary and can be managed with minimal assistance. Other causes are chronic and complex and will need longer-term care and treatment strategies.

Treatment for impaired urinary elimination depends on the underlying cause and the symptoms but can include medication, pelvic floor training, catheterization, and bladder retraining.