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What Are the Possible Causes of an Enlarged Bladder?

Any type of developmental issues with the urinary system may cause an enlarged bladder.
A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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An enlarged bladder is a rather common medical condition that can have a variety of causes. In some cases, the patient is born with a bladder that is enlarged or a medical condition that increases the chances of developing an enlarged bladder later in life. Diabetes and obesity have been linked to the enlargement of the bladder. Structural problems such as a urinary blockage or abnormal bladder contractions can also cause the bladder to become enlarged. Any questions or concerns about an enlarged bladder or individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Although relatively uncommon, babies are sometimes born with an enlarged bladder. While this does not always lead to negative health issues, further testing is usually done to make sure there are no urinary obstructions or other health conditions that need to be addressed. Developmental abnormalities affecting any portion of the urinary system can cause the bladder to be larger than normal. Even if no noticeable contributing factors are present, the child may be closely monitored for the first several years of life just to make sure that the urinary system is functioning normally.

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Diabetes and obesity have been closely linked to the development of an enlarged bladder. While either of these conditions alone can cause the bladder to stretch and become larger than usual, the two conditions combined greatly increases these risks. Maintaining a healthy weight and properly maintaining blood sugar levels can help to prevent this problem from occurring. Diabetic patients should make sure to keep all regularly scheduled appointments with a doctor and follow all recommendations closely in order to avoid potentially serious health complications, especially if weight is a concern.

Urinary obstructions can lead to an enlarged bladder, although this usually occurs over a period of time. Kidney stones and tumors are the leading causes of a urinary obstruction. If detected in the earliest stages, prompt treatment of the obstruction may prevent abnormal bladder growth. In some cases, the bladder may not fully contract, causing the bladder to become larger due to incomplete emptying.

Neurological problems, such as are common with medical conditions like paralysis or multiple sclerosis, are prone to leading to an enlargement of the bladder. Urinary incontinence is common when there has been any type of neurological damage. An inability to consciously empty the bladder on a regular basis causes the bladder to stretch and become enlarged.

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Discuss this Article

discographer
Post 7

@feruze-- Do you mean PUV or Posterior Urethral Valves?

I don't know if this is due to genetic factors or not but I do know that it's a serious condition which affects the fetus. It can end in death, usually immediately at birth if the pregnancy is not terminated beforehand.

It's basically a blockage in the urethra that doesn't allow the urine to pass and damages the kidneys of the fetus. Enlarged bladder is a symptom of this and if it's detected early on, at around 12 weeks, surgery is a possibility and the fetus can be saved. If it's 15 weeks or after, it can be too late.

bear78
Post 6

@turquoise- I don't think you should jump to any conclusions just yet. Go for the ultrasound in two weeks and see what happens.

My sister's son had the same thing as a fetus and I believe it was around the same time, 12 or 14 weeks of the pregnancy. She went back for the ultrasound several weeks later to find that the bladder had gone back to it's normal size.

She was also worried for those two weeks and did a lot of research online which scared her even more. Apparently, there is a genetic disorder that can lead to an enlarged bladder which often ends up with the infant dying before birth. We were scared out of our minds that the same thing could be happening to my nephew. Thankfully, everything went back to normal and he was born a very healthy baby. I hope the same will be true for your child.

turquoise
Post 5

My wife is 12 weeks pregnant and had an ultrasound a couple of days ago. The doctor said that our baby has an enlarged urinary bladder. Apparently, it's supposed to be 7 millimeters, but our baby's bladder is 11. The doctor has asked us to go back for another ultrasound in two weeks.

If the bladder is still enlarged, then the doctor will need to find out the cause. If there is an obstruction to the bladder, the doctor said that they will do something called a shunt procedure to remove the fluid in the bladder.

My wife and I are really scared. We have never heard of an enlarged bladder in a fetus before. The doctor did not make this all sound too good. Has anyone else experienced this and deliver a healthy child? What do think are the chances of the baby's bladder going back to normal size in two weeks?

seag47
Post 4

Diabetes caused my grandmother to develop urinary incontinence. Her nerves had been damaged by the condition, so her bladder could not fully empty itself.

Because of this, she would sometimes leak urine. She could not tell when she needed to go, and she was unable to get rid of all the urine while on the toilet.

She had to start wearing incontinence pads. She kept her sense of humor about her during this difficult time, and that made it easier to deal with.

She will probably always have an enlarged bladder. The damage is done, and there is no going back.

cloudel
Post 3

An enlarged bladder in men can be related to the prostate. My uncle's enlarged bladder puzzled his doctor for awhile before they found the source of it.

He had been diagnosed with a big bladder during a physical. The doctor made him urinate and then measured the amount of urine still in his bladder. Astonishingly, there was quite a bit left behind.

The doctor told him that one option would be for him to insert catheters in himself daily to get rid of the excess urine, but he would not go along with this idea. The doctor did a few more tests, and he discovered that my uncle had lobes atop his prostate.

These lobes were blocking the flow of his urine, so they had to be removed. After the surgery, he could pee like a normal person again.

OeKc05
Post 2

@kylee07drg – I think the main danger of having an enlarged bladder lies in the fact that you can store your urine longer. Though this may sound like a good thing, it isn't always so.

Bacteria grow and multiply in your urine when you refuse to empty out your bladder. I have developed many urinary tract infections because I wasn't willing to pee every time I got the urge, and my doctor blamed me for this.

Though your brother may be tempted to hold it as long as he can, he is putting himself at risk of infection. I would be surprised if he hasn't already had some issues in this department.

kylee07drg
Post 1

I guess if you keep your bladder stretched for too long, it will stick that way. My brother held his urine a long time at work, because going to the bathroom would affect his speed and production rate. He later found out that he had an enlarged bladder.

To me, this doesn't sound like a bad thing, though. I mean, I would love to be able to hold my urine for half a day. It would make traveling so much faster, because I wouldn't have to stop every two hours to go to the bathroom.

Does anyone know if simply having an enlarged bladder can cause problems? I know that some enlarged bladders are caused by medical issues, but what about the ones that are brought on just by holding your urine for a long time?

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