A new study suggests a connection between the use of certain inhaled drugs for breathing difficulties and emergency treatment for urinary retention. The authors reviewed the records of approximately 10,000 patients treated in Toronto for this painful condition. The men who had recently begun using inhalers such as Spiriva, Combivent or Atrovent for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder were 42 percent more likely to have developed acute urinary retention, in which the bladder fills but cannot be emptied. Some lung experts have argued that the inhaled drugs affect only the lungs, but this association suggests that the medications can have an impact on the entire body. Men with enlarged prostate glands are also at increased risk of urinary retention if they use this type of inhaled medication. The scientists urge that both physicians and patients be more aware of the potential for this significant and painful adverse event.
[Archives of Internal Medicine, May 23, 2011]