Ever been so desperate for the toilet you thought you might burst? Well that’s a bit like what having a case of atonic bladder feels like – all the time. Atonic, or sometimes ‘flaccid’, bladder sees the organ dilate as usual but fail to empty. This is often due to the brain sending incorrect signals to the bladder usually stemming from some kind of spinal cord injury or a condition such as multiple sclerosis. The problem can also be caused by a blockage of the urinary canal, normally caused by bladder stones or, in men, an enlarged prostate. When the urethra is blocked by the prostate it requires a much higher pressure to be able to empty the bladder. Relief can take a number of forms, such as an indwelling or intermittent catheter – which is a tube used to drain the urine from the body manually. Manual exercises, such as pressing on the bladder to squeeze the urine out, or straining the abdominal muscles as if having a bowel movement, can also prove efficient. If not dealt with, complications can arise from the condition; the bladder can become stretched from the pressure of the urine inside, which can damage the bladder walls, in turn leading to a urinary tract infection.
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