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What are the Symptoms of a Bladder Obstruction?

Laura M. Sands
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Bladder obstruction may occur due to an array of different conditions affecting men and women. The symptoms of bladder obstruction also vary and may include pain in the abdomen, painful urination, frequent urination, intermittent urination and reduced urine flow. Some with this condition are unable to urinate despite the uncomfortable feeling of a full bladder.

Also known as primary bladder neck obstruction, this condition is characterized by a blockage of urine flow, which occurs at the bladder base. When effectively diagnosed in the beginning stages, bladder obstruction can be successfully treated. Without a timely diagnosis and treatment effort, however, irreversible damage may be done to the urinary system, as well as to the kidneys.

The symptoms of bladder outlet obstruction may be caused by bladder cancer, stones that have formed in the bladder, an enlarged prostate, a buildup of scar tissue in the urethra or tumors in the pelvic region. Occasionally, bladder obstruction occurs as the result of a birth defect affecting the urethra’s valves or as the result of a distended bladder. While this condition may occur in men, as well as in women, it most commonly affects mature men. In men, it is often assumed to be prostatism or an enlarged prostate, which is a similar, although separate condition affecting the male prostate, but that may also be the underlying cause of obstruction.

People with bladder obstruction sometimes tend to avoid urination due to the painful effects of this condition. Doing so, however, worsens the symptoms and leads to further complications. These complications may include, but are not limited to kidney infection, kidney failure and the likelihood of developing a chronic urinary tract infection.

Bladder obstruction symptoms are both painful and annoying. Often, individuals suffering from this condition experience an intense and frequent urge to urinate at night. When urinating, however, a burning sensation is often felt along with pain at the sides of the abdomen. At the same time, urine flow may tend to be very weak. These symptoms often prompt a person to rise several times during the evening as the urgency is felt, which results in a lack of sleep and leads to secondary symptoms such as irritability and fatigue.

In some cases, people with a bladder obstruction will notice tinges of blood in the urine. Upon examination, doctors often discover an enlargement of the kidneys, as well as elevated blood pressure levels. Without proper medical treatment, a bladder obstruction may lead to further complications, which may include kidney failure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Jun 12, 2012

I have never had a bladder outflow obstruction, but my dad tells me that it's quite painful. He often has nights where he has to get up to go to the bathroom several times, and I always feel so bad for him when I hear him stumbling around his room late at night.

He loses a lot of sleep over this. It has to do with his prostate. We don't discuss it in detail, because it is a bit embarrassing to him, but I know that he has been to the doctor several times because of this, and he is on medication for his prostate.

He will go through periods where everything is fine and he doesn't have to get up a lot at night. Then, he will have several nights in a row of bladder trouble. I feel bad for everyone who has prostate issues.

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
Learn more
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