Overflow Incontinence

overflow incontinence. An elder lady in a black blouse writing something with a stylus on her cell phone.

What is Overflow Incontinence?

Overflow incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine due to the inability to completely empty the bladder. Urine will leak even though the person does not feel the urge to use the restroom. If you have experience the sudden release of urine, issues with urine stream, a feeling of bladder fullness, or urination leaking during sleep, you may be suffering from overflow incontinence.

Cause of Overflow Incontinence

A number of things cause overflow incontinence, including:

  • Blockages
  • Medications
  • Weak Bladder Muscles
  • Nerve Injuries
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Spina Bifida
  • Multiple Sclerosis

While incontinence in general is much more common in women, overflow incontinence is more prevalent in men. In fact, overflow incontinence in women is actually considered to be rare. An enlarged prostate or a narrowing of the urethra are the most common causes of overflow incontinence in men.

Treatment for Overflow Incontinence

For men and women, overflow incontinence is typically treated by catheterization or “cathing.” A small, thin, flexible tube is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to drain the urine. There are different types and forms of catheters and your nurse or physician will show you how to self-cath.

Medications are also used to treat overflow incontinence. Drugs called alpha-adrenergic blockers are prescribed to help relax urethra muscles and allow urine to pass. Some medications include Flomax, Cardura, Hytrin and Cardura.

For more severe cases, especially in men, surgery may be necessary. If an enlarged prostate is causing incontinence, surgery will be performed to remove the blockage. A common surgery used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia is known as transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP.

Medications have made it so that most men with an enlarged prostate do not require surgery. For women, surgery may be needed for abnormal growths or obstructions in the urinary tract. Always consult with your doctor or a health care professional before beginning any course of treatment.