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Oliguria is the medical terminology for decreased urine output. An individual suffers from oliguria when urine output is below 400 millilitres (~16 ounces) in 24 hours.

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It could be a short term alternation in urination or could be a consequence of some serious illness.

Symptoms of oliguria

Oliguria is also evident in infants and children and is characterized by urine output less than 1 mL/kg/hour and less than 0.5 mL/kg/hour, respectively.

Since urine is retained inside the body, the person is most likely to suffer from abdominal discomfort, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and rapid pulse rate.

Causes of oliguria

  • Dehydration resulting from reduced water intake and medical conditions like diarrhea, fever, vomiting, etc.
  • Renal causes- vascular collapse, primary glomerular diseases, tubular necrosis, vascular lesions
  • Kidney inflammation or damage
  • Blockage in urinary tract due to obstructions
  • Side effects of medicines like NSAIDs, gentamyocin antibiotic, ACE inhibitors
  • History of haematuria in children

When to see a doctor?

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If your frequency of urination is restored after consuming sufficient water, then you may not need to see a doctor. However, do not delay for medical help when you experience lightheadedness, vomiting and nausea, pain in genitals or any other discomfort along with low urine output.

Are there any risks associated with oliguria?

If you fail to get yourself diagnosed in the right time, then you can develop health disorders like:

Diagnosis of oliguria

Diagnosis of oliguria is considerably a long process. Your general physician can refer you to a nephrologist.

Diagnosis begins with checking your medical history and lifestyle (water intake, since when you are experiencing and other associated symptoms). You need to tell your doctor the medicines you might be taking and their respective dosages.

A physical exam will be conducted, followed by clinical tests to determine the underlying cause of oliguria. They are:

Additional diagnostic tests like Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP), CT scan and Ultrasound of kidneys and abdomen are also carried out to detect kidney complications associated with oliguria.

Treatment of oliguria

There are several treatment options for oliguria and they depend absolutely on the test reports and clinical diagnosis. Some approaches are:

  • Dosage of medicine that might be decreasing urination may be altered temporarily
  • In severe case of dehydration patients are hospitalized for administering drip
  • Restoration of intravascular volume, fluid balance and electrolyte abnormality
  • Obstruction may be removed by urological surgery. A catheter is placed in urinary bladder for this purpose and urine output is monitored.

Can oliguria be prevented?

If there’s a medical complication associated with oliguria, then it cannot be prevented. Otherwise, you can restore normal urination by incorporating the following changes:

  • Drink plenty of water to normalize urine output, especially during fever, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.
  • Cut down on caffeine and other beverages like cola
  • You can have electrolyte drinks additionally for betterment of your health
  • Cleanse your system by drinking tender coconut water everyday

If you face trouble in passing urine or observe severely reduced urine output, then make sure you get a medical check-up done. Get yourself diagnosed early for a better health.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015


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