Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs in patients when the body can’t sense when the bladder is full, resulting in unexpected urine leakage. In those with overflow incontinence, it is also common for the bladder to not become completely empty after urination. 

Overflow Incontinence Symptoms

Besides sudden and unexpected leaks, patients with overflow incontinence typically exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Weak urine stream – Many sufferers of overflow incontinence have issues starting to urinate and may experience only a small amount at a time.
  • Urinating during the night – While sleeping, many women wake up and feel the need to urinate several times throughout the night.
  • Urinary tract infections – Because the bladder may not be emptying completely, bacteria can grow and infect the urinary tract. 

Causes of Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is seen in male patients more often than females. But, it is still possible for women to develop this issue. In most cases, overflow incontinence is caused by a weakness in the bladder muscles that can develop over time. Other possible causes include:

  • Bladder stones
  • Previous injury to the pelvis or hip area
  • Prolapse of the uterus or bladder

Testing for Overflow Incontinence

Patients may be asked to keep a diary of any urinary incidents they have over a set period of time. This may help the doctor find any patterns or potential causes of incontinence. In addition, the following tests may be performed:

  • Urine Volume Test – After urinating, the doctor will determine the amount of leftover urine in the bladder. 
  • Bladder Pressure Test – The doctor will slowly fill the bladder with warm water and use a pressure sensor to measure changes in the patient’s bladder pressure. 
  • Bladder Examination – A cystoscope, a small device that can provide images to the doctor, will be inserted into the bladder so that the physician can examine the bladder and urethra.

Overflow Incontinence Treatment

Behavioral modifications such as bladder training and Kegel exercises may be recommended. Medication, including alpha-blockers and anticholinergics, may also be prescribed to help control symptoms. If these options don’t help, devices or surgery may be recommended. 

Devices

  • Pessary – A ring is placed on each side of the urethra that helps support the bladder.  
  • Urethral Inserts – A disposable device is worn at various times throughout the day to act as a barrier against leakage. It is mostly recommended for what a patient is going to be performing physical activity. 

Surgery

Surgery intervention to treat stress incontinence is typically the last resort when behavior therapies and devices don’t provide adequate relief from symptoms. The goal of the surgery will be to provide the bladder and urethral muscles with adequate support.

To make an appointment with urology specialist Dr. Joseph Banno of Midwest Uroligical Group, please call (309) 692-9898, or fill out our secure online appointment request form