Updated on December 20, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Many medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants and decongestants, can cause urinary retention. While this is a rare side effect of medical weed, it’s one you could experience. If you do, it’s critical to talk to your doctor.
While some side effects of medical pot, such as red eyes, are brief and cause minor discomfort, others like urinary retention are much more of a problem for patients, as they impact your comfort level and daily life. That’s why it’s crucial for your physician to consider the benefits and side effects of medical weed in relation to your condition before recommending it.
In most cases, doctors and patients find medical weed’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages. In other cases, you may even receive a medical cannabis recommendation due to specific side effects of the medicine, such as drowsiness, which helps those with insomnia stay asleep through the night.
Through extensive research, professionals in the medical field have provided patients and physicians with an answer as to why medical weed causes side effects, like heightened sensory perception or hunger. Urinary retention, however, is one side effect researchers are still working to unravel.
So far, studies have found that medical cannabis-induced urinary retention affect more men than women. The study also noted a correlation between the use of Ativan, a medication for seizures and anxiety, and urinary retention.
Often, the cause of both medical marijuana’s benefits and side effects stems from cannabinoids. More than 100 are found in cannabis, though the two primary cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are credited with specific effects, such as pain relief or drowsiness. As CBD tends to deliver a more calming, relaxing experience, it’s possible that THC influences urinary retention.
Depending on whether you’re experiencing chronic or acute urinary retention, your symptoms will vary. Acute urinary retention requires immediate medical assistance and includes the following signs:
Chronic symptoms, which also need medical treatment, include:
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit your local hospital.
While many of medical marijuana’s side effects don’t cause long-term side effects, untreated urinary retention can result in complications, including:
With a quick diagnosis and treatment, these long-term side effects may be avoidable.
Because the medical community isn’t sure why marijuana causes urinary retention, it’s difficult to recommend ways to prevent it. In some cases, your physician may recommend adjusting your diet. Many doctors, however, advise avoiding medications with a high chance of urinary retention due to the risks this condition can pose to your health.
For most patients, urinary retention is not an issue. Its rarity is one reason medical marijuana doctors feel the benefits of medical weed still outweigh its potential side effects. If you begin having trouble urinating, make sure you receive immediate treatment. Then, re-evaluate with your doctor if medical cannabis is right for you.