What is Overflow Incontinence?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
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Overflow incontinence is a form of incontinence in which the bladder never fully empties, and the patient experiences a constant leaking of urine. There are a number of causes for this condition, many of which can be addressed by a urologist to resolve the overflow incontinence or manage it more effectively. Many older adults do not seek treatment for incontinence because they think it's a normal process of aging, but in fact, it can often be cured or greatly reduced with some medical attention, so people of all ages should definitely visit the doctor if they begin to experience incontinence. There's no reason to endure a condition which can be managed or eliminated.

In people with overflow incontinence, the bladder cannot empty fully, perhaps because of obstruction, nerve damage, or damage to the bladder. As a result, the bladder never feels empty, and the patient often experiences leaking and dribbling. This can be very uncomfortable, and it could also be the sign of a serious medical problem which requires attention. It may also cause social distress, as many people feel embarrassed about incontinence issues when they manifest in public.


Kidney stones, tumors, an enlarged prostate, damage to the bladder, nerve damage, and certain medications are all associated with overflow incontinence. Many of these issues can be resolved with treatment which can include medication or incontinence surgery, addressing the potentially harmful cause of the incontinence in addition to the incontinence itself. Treatment approaches vary, depending on the cause, and a urologist can talk with a patient about the available options.

Common symptoms of overflow incontinence include difficulty urinating, a lack of urge to urinate, frequent nighttime urination, a sense that the bladder is always full, and consistent dribbling or leaking of urine, especially right after urinating or attempting to urinate. This condition is more common in men, tending to appear in older men in particular, but it can occur in women as well.

Routine medical examinations can often identify problems which may lead to incontinence, such as an enlarged prostate. These examinations also offer an opportunity to submit a urine sample for analysis to check for issues like stones and infections which could become a problem if they are allowed to persist. If patients have been experiencing incontinence, they should mention it to the doctor during checkups, as it may be an important clue to a patient's overall health, and the doctor can conduct some tests and provide some advice to help the patient manage the incontinence.



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