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Overflow Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Woman pouring water into a glass

A guide for understanding the causes, symptoms and treatment options for overflow incontinence.

Do you sometimes put on a fresh pair of underwear, only to find them soaked through within a matter of minutes? This can even happen at night, leaving you sleepless and uncomfortable. If so, you may have overflow incontinence.

What is Overflow Incontinence?

What Are the Symptoms of Overflow Incontinence?

Here are the most common symptoms of overflow incontinence:

  • You leak urine involuntarily
  • You wet the bed
  • You are going to the bathroom more often, but passing less urine
  • You feel like you can’t empty your bladder fully no matter how long you sit on the toilet
  • You are having trouble starting to urinate
  • Your urine stream is weak
  • Your urine stream stops and starts again during urination
  • You suffer from frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Overflow Incontinence Causes

Overflow incontinence is mainly caused by chronic urinary retention, which means you can’t empty the bladder completely. This can happen as a result of a blockage in the urinary tract, or from weak bladder muscles that prevent the bladder from fully emptying or from signaling that it is full.

Some conditions that can cause overflow incontinence are:

  • Bladder stones or tumors
  • Conditions that affect the nerves surrounding the bladder, such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes
  • Severe prolapse of the bladder or uterus
  • Weakened muscles from pelvic surgery, such as a C-section
  • Some medications

Living With Urinary Incontinence Overflow

How to Treat Overflow Incontinence

There are a number of treatments for overflow incontinence, which include:

  • Catheterization, where a small, thin tube is inserted through the urethra to help drain excess urine out of the bladder
  • Surgery to correct any physical blockage of the bladder
  • Medication to help manage your symptoms

Products to Protect You Against Overflow Incontinence

Incontinence underwear or pads can be worn as an interim remedy. Always Discreet incontinence underwear, for instance, are thin and flexible. No one will even know you’re wearing them. They fit smoothly and comfortably under your clothes, just like real underwear. The super absorbent core turns liquid and odors into gel to keep you dry and confident.

Talk to a Doctor

If you experience constant urination, don’t be embarrassed to get medical advice from your doctor. Be sure to keep a diary or journal of your diet, symptoms, urine schedule and any "accidents" that may occur—then discuss it with your doctor. He or she can help determine what is triggering the overflow incontinence symptoms, such as an underlying medical condition, a weakened bladder muscle, lifestyle habits, blockage to your bladder or something else.

Most importantly, getting a diagnosis means getting treatment, which can help get you back to living life!