Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Man in Dubai loses bladder control after infection, treated

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on April 19, 2021

He was unable to realise when his bladder was full and began leaking.

A Dubai-based businessman, who suffered for months from loss of bladder control -- a rare side effect of Covid-19 -- was cured thanks to timely diagnosis and treatment.

Ahmad Zubair Qureshi, 71, contracted Covid-19 while on a visit to his home country Pakistan in December last year, and experienced severe urinary incontinence that lasted for four months.

The problem would have persisted if it was not correctly diagnosed and treated, said Dr Foroozan Khezri, specialist – adult and pediatric urologist, Medcare Hospital – Al Safa who treated the patient and helped resolve the issue in less than a month.

Qureshi was hospitalised with severe Covid infection in December and within the first week of being Covid positive started experiencing difficulties in urinating. Qureshi said he knew it was not the prostate issue as he had undergone a surgery for the same 10 years ago and had no issues ever since.

Even after recuperating from Covid-19, he continued to experience urinary incontinence — the loss of bladder control – and felt acute discomfort as he was unable to realise when his bladder was full and began leaking. As a result, doctors inserted a urinary catheter - a tube inserted in the bladder to drain or collect urine - to help ease his condition.

After four months of suffering from the condition, and infection due to constant insertion of catheters, he was referred to Dr Khezri who ran a urodynamic test on the patient to check the wellbeing of his bladder. "I knew it could not have been a prostate issue, as firstly prostate issue doesn’t surface suddenly, and secondly he had already done a surgery for the condition many years ago. Also, apart from facing extreme inconvenience from carrying the catheter while going for meetings, the businessman also had urine infection due to constant catherterisation. So before doing any tests, we first treated his urinary infection and after a few days ran the urodynamic test that revealed the real cause of urine retention.”

The results revealed that Qureshi was experiencing a side-effect of Covid, which had damaged a sensory nerve in the bladder that signals to the brain that the body needs to urinate.

“What Qureshi experienced is one of the lesser heard side effects of Covid as the deadly virus is known to affect different people differently. With Qureshi’s case it is now evident that Covid not only affects respiratory system or organs such as the heart and kidney, but can also have neurological manifestations as side-effects such as loss of smell, consciousness, and in Qureshi’s case it was the numbness of a sensory nerve that helps push the urine out or makes one feel that one needs to urinate.

“Since his sensory nerve of the bladder stopped functioning.. he couldn’t feel when his bladder was full.”

Explaining the condition, Dr Khezri said: “When the bladder is full and if one still doesn’t urinate for long then it leads to urine retention and one is unable to pass urine properly. This was exactly the case with Qureshi, who due to his non-functional sensory nerve found it it difficult to completely empty his bladder. After the diagnosis, we began treatment through medicines that relaxed the muscles of his bladder.

“Also, I advised him not to wait for the sensation of wanting to go to urinate, but go to the washroom after every couple of hours to give respite to his bladder.”

After taking the medications and following instructions, Qureshi is now living a normal life without the need for a catheter.

“Just like how Covid patients regain their sense of smell and taste, similarly we hope Qureshi’s sensory bladder nerve also resumes its normal function.”

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