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Inhaled COPD drugs linked to urine retention

Posted May 27 2011 12:08pm

Men who take inhaled anti-cholinergic drugs to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be more likely to suffer from urine retention, scientists have found. Urine retention occurs when a person is unable to empty their bladder.

Symptoms include the frequent or urgent need to urinate, using the toilet several times a night, and urinary incontinence due to overflow. Canadian scientists analysed data on 565,073 people, aged 66 or older, with COPD – a collection of lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. They found that 9,432 men and 1,806 women developed acute urine retention, and the risk was greatest among individuals who had just started using anti-cholinergic therapies.

Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study authors concluded: “Use of short and long-acting inhaled anti-cholinergic medications is associated with an increased risk of acute urine retention in men with COPD. “Physicians should highlight for patients the possible connection between urinary symptoms and inhaled respiratory medication use to ensure that changes in urinary flow (i.e. incomplete voiding, urinary incontinence and decreased urinary flow) are reported.”

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