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What is overflow incontinence? 

Overflow incontinence happens when the bladder is unable empty completely. If the bladder can not empty completely it can lead to frequent urination or dribbling.

It is very distressing for people with overflow as they tend not to have the feeling to urinate when the bladder should be emptied. This maybe due to the bladder muscles, detrusor muscle weakened or damaged as a result of nerve damage within the bladder. This condition is common in diabetics.


If the nerves in the bladder are damaged this can decrease neural signals from the bladder to the brain and as a result the bladder is allowed to constantly be filled. The patient does not feel the need to empty the bladder on time and as a result the bladder overfills and spills out into the urethra.


If you have experienced severe back pain and severe pain on urinating you may have kidney stones. The stones can pass from the bladder and block the urethra.


Men with enlarged prostates find that they ‘dribble’ this is another reason why they may have overflow incontinence.
Women who have had surgery (TVT, TOT and other corrective bladder surgery) who experience overflow incontinence should revisit their urologist as this could indicate that the surgery has not been 100% successful.

A constantly full bladder triggers frequent urination or a constant dribbling of urine, or both.


Did you know?

Overflow incontinence is more prevalent in men however, women with fibroids or ovarian tumours, tend to show signs of overflow incontinence.

Women who have vaginal prolapse may show signs of overflow as the prolapse causes the urethra to ‘kink’

What to watch out for early symptoms may include a hesitant or slow stream of urine during voluntary urination.

Medication known to worsen overflow incontinence Anticholinergics and NSAIDs may worsen overflow incontinence.

Treatment Overflow incontinence, (a bladder which never completely empties) can be treated by inserting a catheter to empty the bladder. There are many types of catheters available, your doctor or physiotherapist will advise which one is suitable for you.

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