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What Is An Enlarged Bladder? Symptoms, Treatments, & Causes

Enlarged Bladder

Enlarged Bladder - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

An enlarged bladder or bladder hypertrophy is when the bladder walls thicken due to the inability to pass urine due to obstruction near the kidneys, ureters, or in the bladder itself. Signs of an enlarged prostate include difficulty during urination, frequent urge to urinate, and a weak or inconsistent flow of urine. Bladder hypertrophy does not have a specific treatment but can be controlled to make the condition easier to live with.

Introduction

The urinary bladder is a sac that holds urine before it is excreted from the body. It is located in the pelvic cavity between the pelvic bones. In certain cases, it becomes larger than its regular size because it overstretches and causes the walls to thicken. This enlarged bladder condition is called bladder hypertrophy, with an incidence rate of 0.8% p.a. in the elderly. Bladder hypertrophy [1] can be a congenital disorder or a result of body aging, which is why it’s more common in senior citizens. It also occurs by some obstruction behind the kidneys, in the connecting ureters, or within the bladder itself.

Brief Overview Of Enlarged Bladder

As we age, our body goes through certain stages and does not remain as young and healthy as it once was. Dysfunction in the urinary tract and other problems like an enlarged bladder are common problems with age. Sometimes it may also be caused by changes in the lower region, like pregnancy.

Bladder hypertrophy or an enlarged bladder usually occurs due to pressure from an internal or external source. It can cause discomfort as it gets harder to pass urine and the bladder never feels empty. If left untreated, it can even lead to complications in the kidney or infections in the tract area.

Since the patient has trouble passing urine, the bladder holds the amount until it eventually stretches out and is unable to return to its original state. The bladder will have to put more work into trying to urinate, which might cause irritation and inflammation. Other problems can arise due to this, as urinary retention can cause it to flow back to the kidneys through the ureters and cause permanent kidney damage. Though an enlarged bladder is usually controllable, when the kidneys are affected, the worst-case scenario is you might need dialysis or even a kidney transplant.

Common Causes Of Enlarged Bladder

Causes Of Enlarged Bladder

An enlarged bladder is a condition that usually develops in old age when the bladder walls thicken due to difficulties in passing urine. Sometimes it is present by birth and is not exactly a failure of the body. Often, it is also caused in pregnant women as the stretching of the womb can put pressure on the tract.

When the bladder gets enlarged, it can swell and start protruding out of its normal position, causing problems with the nearby organs, like the kidneys. This will worsen the condition, as obstructing the kidney will cause difficulty in passing, which will cause the bladder to enlarge even more.

The cycle is unending, as an enlarged bladder will then cause more urinary retention. Since there was already difficulty in passing urine, there will always be some of it retained over time, leading to a risk of infection and problems with the bladder shrinking back to its normal size.

In the case of infants born with this condition, bladder hypertrophy is not exactly a serious condition and is quite manageable since babies can be monitored in the earlier stages. Though there is no specific treatment for an enlarged bladder, the symptoms can always be controlled to ease the discomfort.

Children are usually checked for obstruction in the urinary tract or other health conditions in case of bladder hypertrophy. As long as urine can be excreted and the bladder completely emptied, there is a chance of being able to live a comfortable life with it.

Interlinked bodily diseases like diabetes and obesity can also lead to an enlarged bladder, as it can decrease the relaxation of the internal urethral sphincter affecting the easy flow of urine. In this case, an enlarged bladder is manageable by lowering blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight.

Other conditions like kidney stones and tumors that directly obstruct the flow of urine passage can also lead to an enlarged bladder with time. Even neurological complications like paralysis and multiple sclerosis can cause bladder hypertrophy, as the brain fails to send signals for the release of urine. Another medical condition called obstructive uropathy, wherein there is a partial or complete obstruction in urine flow, can also lead to bladder enlargement and other kidney complications.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of An Enlarged Bladder?

Though bladder hypertrophy is a difficult condition, it, fortunately, starts showing symptoms before it can become a major problem. The following are the symptoms of an enlarged bladder:

  • Constant feeling of fullness in the bladder
  • Frequent urgent need for urination
  • Slow and minimum flow of urine or a stream that stops as soon as it starts
  • Possible sudden pains in the abdomen
  • Pain or difficulty in urinating
  • Nocturia – waking up from the pressure of urination
  • Loss of urine control
  • Urination ending with dribbling
  • Never being able to fully empty the bladder
urine control

Some other less common ones which can also be enlarged prostate symptoms are as follows:

  • Complete inability to pass urine
  • Blood during or after urination
  • UTI in women

Since there are several underlying causes for the development of an enlarged bladder, there can also be symptoms accordingly. Some fractures in the pelvic area will cause pain in the affected region, kidney stones are more likely to cause blood during urination, and tumors can lead to other carcinogenic problems.

In men, an enlarged bladder can also be caused by an enlarged prostate – also known as Benign Prostate Enlargement[2]. However, prostate size does not always directly determine how severe your bladder hypertrophy is, and some symptoms may even improve with time.

Secondary Causes Of Urinary Symptoms

The severity of symptoms in people with prostate gland enlargement varies, but symptoms tend to gradually worsen or stabilize over time. In the case of Benign Prostate Enlargement in men, the following are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate:

  • Prostatitis or inflammation in the prostate
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Scars developed in the bladder neck due to previous surgery
  • Urethral stricture or narrowing of one’s urethra
  • Control problems in the bladder
  • Prostate or bladder cancer
  • Kidney or bladder stones

The following are some signs of an enlarged prostate that may indicate an underlying problem:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Prostate calcification (stones)

How To Diagnose And Treat An Enlarged Bladder?

All the possible symptoms of an enlarged bladder are common to other pelvic region problems like injury, UTI, BPH, cystitis, etc., so it’s difficult to tell when the case is that of an enlarged bladder. However, if you are facing all of the symptoms mentioned above, especially the constant feeling of fullness in the bladder despite frequent urination, then it is time to see a doctor, and an ultrasound should be performed to determine the cause.

The treatment only aims to remove the underlying cause of the enlarged bladder preventing it from further stretching. Early diagnosis of bladder hypertrophy or other underlying diseases can prevent the condition from worsening.

Since there is no natural treatment like therapy or medication for bladder hypertrophy, the only possible solution is surgery to remove the blockage. The type of blockage and the size of the bladder are two factors that will determine the type of surgery.

In case of enlarged prostate symptoms which is causing bladder enlargement, the following are some natural remedies that can decrease the swelling and prostate size:

  • Saw Palmetto (herbal remedy)
  • Beta-Sitosterol (herbal medication)
  • Pygeum (traditional medicine)
  • Rye Grass Pollen Extract (natural medication)
  • Stinging Nettle

Complications Involved With An Enlarged Bladder

Complication enlarged bladder

Another possible complication of an enlarged bladder is that it will retain urine longer than usual. Holding urine causes the bladder walls to stretch to an irreversible point and may even lead to inflammation.

Even kidneys can get infected as excess urine will be sent back up to the kidneys through the ureters, which will further cause infection and even cause damage to your kidney later on in life. You might even need dialysis or a complete kidney transplant.

Women with enlarged bladders who go through pregnancy will also find that they have lesser bladder control compared to other women.

Frequently Asked Questions

An enlarged prostate condition, known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, can also affect a man’s sexual life. It can reduce one’s sexual drive leading to erectile dysfunction.

There is no specific treatment - both medicine and other procedures are used and fail equally. To ease pain caused by inflammation, patients need to stay hydrated or use a heating pad.

There are ways to treat an enlarged prostate bladder - medicine, TUNA treatment, surgery, alpha-blockers, and for some, it may take just a few lifestyle changes - all depending on your overall health and the size of your prostate.

An enlarged prostate can take up space resulting in pressure on your bladder and urethra. This can cause problems when you pee, including a difficult and frequent need to pee.

Yes, there are natural remedies for enlarged prostate that can decrease the swelling and reduce the prostate size. Some of them are Saw Palmetto, Beta-Sitosterol, and Rye Grass Pollen Extract.

Conclusion

An enlarged bladder can be a difficult and painful condition to deal with and brings further complications like BPH and cystitis that can cause discomfort and stress. Since it is mostly caused by age when the body starts to malfunction, there is not much the patient can do to revert it to its original size.

The only thing is to ease the pain that the patient would be going through with home remedies and medical treatments, causing less stress to the patient. Fortunately, bladder hypertrophy is a condition that shows symptoms before the bladder starts to stretch and sometimes can be averted.

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All Health Web Magazine content is thoroughly reviewed and/or fact-checked by a team of health industry experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

At no time do we advise any of our readers to use any of our content as a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date or any otherwise questionable content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.

All Health Web Magazine content is thoroughly reviewed and/or fact-checked by a team of health industry experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

At no time do we advise any of our readers to use any of our content as a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date or any otherwise questionable content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.