What is Overflow Incontinence?

Also known as chronic urinary retention, overflow incontinence happens when you are unable to completely empty your bladder, which leads to urine leaking out involuntarily when it’s full.

Urinary retention must be treated urgently because there is a risk of damage to the kidneys. This is caused by pressure of urine building up in the bladder and urinary tract. Care staff should be alert and observant for typical symptoms to detect the signs of urine retention like e.g. emptying difficulties or frequent urge to urinate

What are the symptoms of overflow incontinence?

Typical symptoms of overflow incontinence can include:
• difficulty in starting to urinate
• feeling that the bladder is not emptied after urinating
• an interrupted or weak urine stream
• frequent urge to urinate and frequent night time urination
We understand that experiencing these symptoms can be incredibly frustrating – you will have to go to the toilet more often and urinating can be laboured as you may struggle to start, before only being able to sustain a weak flow. Sometimes leakage will occur anyway despite these frequent visits. 

Overflow incontinence caused by a blockage

Once your doctor has identified that you have overflow incontinence, it’s important that you understand the causes.
It’s more prevalent amongst men than it is with women, and the reason being for this is that an enlarged prostate is the most common trigger. It will cause a blockage in your urethra and increase pressure on your bladder with urine unable to pass through naturally, therefore causing leakage.
In addition to this, there are other potential causes of obstruction which can be a factor in overflow incontinence in both men and women such as constipation and bladder stones.

Other causes of overflow incontinence

In contrast to urge incontinence when your detrusor muscles contract too readily, overflow incontinence can happen when they don’t contract enough resulting in you potentially being unable to fully clear your bladder. 
This could be down to medical conditions which impact your nerves such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, or as a negative side-effect from selected medications.    

Treatment for overflow incontinence

To combat possible overflow incontinence, you should go to your doctor as soon as you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
From there, they will most likely take a scan of your bladder to confirm whether you have a urine retention issue. Your doctor might recommend the following techniques to battle overflow incontinence:
• Adopting the proper position on the toilet with your feet adequately supported
• Intermittent clean self-catheterisation (ICSC) – for ongoing treatment, ICSC is a clean and aseptic (not sterile) method of emptying the bladder. Another treatment option is indwelling catheterisation. This method is not usually considered as a permanent solution, because of the risk of infection due to the daily rate of bacteriuria, (bacteria in urine) after 10 days with indwelling catheter the urinary bladder is colonised with bacteria. 
• Suprapubic catheterisation – in this method a catheter is inserted in the bladder through the belly. 
• Prostate surgery – for men with an enlarged prostate gland, surgery of the prostate involves removing the part of the prostate gland which compresses the urethra
One way to supplement these treatment options and face your overflow incontinence is to have some TENA products on hand. Look below for details of how to get hold of the right free sample pack for you or your family: