Everything Incontinence

Understanding the Basics of Overflow Incontinence

From Symptoms to Solutions: A Guide to Overflow Incontinence

Living with overflow incontinence brings forth unique challenges that require a blend of understanding, adaptation, and empowerment. This often-misunderstood condition is marked by the involuntary leakage of urine due to an overwhelmed bladder. 

From comprehending its underlying causes to exploring effective management strategies, this guide embarks on a comprehensive exploration of overflow incontinence. By delving into the intricacies of this condition and discovering practical ways to manage its effects, individuals can gain the knowledge and tools needed to embrace life with confidence and vitality.

What is Overflow Incontinence?

Overflow incontinence, a type of urinary incontinence, is a condition characterized by the involuntary leakage of urine due to an inability to completely empty the bladder. This occurs when the bladder becomes overly full and exceeds its normal capacity, leading to leakage. Unlike other forms of incontinence, such as stress or urge incontinence, where there's a sudden and strong urge to urinate, overflow incontinence often involves a constant dribbling or slow leakage of urine.

How Common is Overflow Incontinence?

Overflow incontinence is relatively less common compared to other types of urinary incontinence. According to sources, it is estimated that around 2-3% of adults experience overflow incontinence. This condition becomes more prevalent with age, with the average age of onset being around 60 years. While women are more likely to be affected by incontinence, in general, overflow incontinence is actually more common in men. According to WebMD, this is often due to an enlarged prostate that obstructs the bladder. However, there are various other factors that can lead to overflow incontinence.

Causes of Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence typically results from an obstruction or dysfunction in the urinary system that prevents proper bladder emptying. Though it can happen in both men and women, the causes can vary between the two.

Common Causes in Men

    • Enlarged Prostate: This is the most common cause in men. An enlarged prostate gland can block the flow of urine, limiting your ability to empty the bladder.
    • Prostate Surgery: Procedures to treat prostate issues can sometimes lead to swelling and scarring, which can cause overflow incontinence.
    • Bladder Stones: These can obstruct the flow of urine, making it more difficult to completely empty the bladder.
    • Stricture: This is when scarring causes a narrowing of the urethra. As a result, it impedes urine flow.
  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): This non-cancerous growth of the prostate can obstruct urine flow.
    • Nerve Damage: Certain neurological conditions, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injuries, can disrupt the communication between the bladder and the brain, leading to impaired bladder function.
    • Medications: Any meds that interfere with bladder function can cause overflow incontinence. Those that increase urine supply can also indirectly lead to this condition.

    Common Causes in Women

    • Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Conditions like bladder prolapse (cystocele) can interfere with normal bladder function.
    • Nerve Damage: Similar to men, nerve damage due to conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and more can affect bladder control.
    • Surgery: Surgeries involving the reproductive organs, such as a hysterectomy, may impact bladder function.
    • Medications: Some drugs, especially those with anticholinergic properties, can interfere with bladder function. Diuretics, though not a direct cause of overflow incontinence, can also be a contributing factor, as they increase the amount of urine produced by the body.

    Risk Factors That Could Eventually Lead to Overflow Incontinence

    As with any type of incontinence, recognizing early warning signs and risk factors is crucial for timely intervention.

    • Underlying Health Conditions: Diabetes, neurological disorders, and spinal cord injuries increase the risk of nerve damage and bladder dysfunction.
    • Medications: Some medications, such as alpha-blockers for hypertension or antidepressants, can interfere with bladder function.
    • Prostate Concerns: Prostate issues, such as an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, can cause bladder outlet obstruction, disrupting urine flow in men.
    • Pelvic Surgery: Surgeries involving the pelvic area, such as a hysterectomy or prostate surgery, can disrupt bladder function.

    How Overflow Incontinence is Diagnosed

    According to the American Family Physician Journal, diagnosis of urinary incontinence comes down to a combination of the following factors and tests:

    • Patient feedback
    • Voiding diary, typically tracking several days worth of information
    • Cough stress test
    • Post-void residual urine measurement

    By looking at those pieces of information, a healthcare professional will conduct a thorough evaluation to diagnose overflow incontinence.

    If there are no symptoms with physical activity and or urgency, there’s a negative cough stress test, and a post-void residual urine measurement above 200 mL, it may result in an overflow incontinence diagnosis. 

    It’s important to note that medical history, physical examinations, urinalysis, and even ultrasound imaging can also be used when diagnosing incontinence.

    How is Overflow Incontinence Treated?

    The treatment approach for overflow incontinence aims to address the underlying cause and improve bladder emptying. Depending on the severity and cause, treatment options may include:

    • Catheterization: Intermittent self-catheterization helps empty the bladder regularly.
    • Medications: Certain medications, including cholinergic drugs, can aid in bladder emptying.
    • Surgery: Procedures like prostate surgery or correcting pelvic organ prolapse can alleviate obstruction.

    Ways to Manage Overflow Incontinence

    Living with overflow incontinence and the side effects of it requires effective management strategies to maintain a high quality of life. Here are some of the most common management tactics:

    Lifestyle Changes

    • Fluid Management: Monitoring fluid intake to avoid overfilling the bladder.
    • Healthy Diet: Consuming bladder-friendly foods and avoiding irritants like caffeine and spicy foods.

    Choosing the Right Products

    As a far easier and less invasive management strategy than surgery, medication, and catheterization, using the right incontinence products is an effective way to deal with overflow incontinence. 

    When it comes to products like incontinence pads and adult diapers, there is a lot to understand. Most importantly, it’s crucial to know that not all incontinence products are created equally. Grocery stores and convenience stores may all sell adult diapers, for example, but more often than not, those are low-quality products.  

    To maintain comfort, convenience, and discretion, we recommend using premium incontinence products. Why? Premium products feature better materials for your skin, more absorbency, and a sleeker silhouette. And the best part is that premium products don’t always come with premium prices. That’s where Parentgiving comes in — we offer the best brands, products, and incontinence education on the market.  


    • Timed Voiding: Establishing a regular schedule for emptying the bladder to prevent overfilling.

    Environmental Changes

    • Accessibility: Ensuring easy access to the bathroom and minimizing obstacles in the home.

    Assistive Devices

    • Catheters: Learning proper catheterization techniques if required.

    Best Products for Overflow Incontinence

    There are many overflow incontinence products available on the market. It’s important to do your research to make sure you find the best product suited for your specific needs.

    Absorbent Undergarment Products

    • Dry Direct Ultimate Protective Underwear: As our flagship underwear, this Dry Direct option is exceptionally soft and comfortable. Plus, it boasts maximum absorbency, meaning it’s approved for extended wear up to 10 hours. As a premium product made 100% in Italy, this underwear is softer, fits better, and offers more discretion than any other products.
    • Depend Guards for Men: These guards, designed for light to moderate bladder control loss, feature a quick-absorbing blue layer and a comfortable, breathable outer cover with a soft liner. Their contoured design offers a better fit for men, with a wider front end. The absorbent core keeps skin dry and minimizes odor, while soft elastics prevent leaks.
    • Dry Direct Extra (Daytime Use) Underwear: This premium incontinence underwear offers a low-profile design, super soft and breathable materials, and exceptional leak protection. It’s noticeably more comfortable than any generic options on the market.

    Ways to Prevent Overflow Incontinence

    While some risk factors are unavoidable, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing overflow incontinence:

    • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise to promote overall bladder and urinary tract health. 
    • Prompt Treatment: Managing underlying conditions promptly to prevent complications.

    FAQs About Overflow Incontinence

    What Other Types of Incontinence Are There?

    There are several types of urinary incontinence, each with their own distinct causes and symptoms:

    • Stress incontinence
    • Urge incontinence
    • Overflow incontinence
    • Functional incontinence
    • Mixed incontinence
    • Psychogenic incontinence 

    Are There Any Resources With More Information About Overflow Incontinence?

    For more detailed information and support, you can refer to reputable sources such as the National Association for Continence (NAFC) website or consult a healthcare professional specializing in urology or incontinence management.

    Can Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) cause overflow incontinence?

    While a UTI itself is not a direct cause of overflow incontinence, it can contribute to the condition. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to bladder inflammation and partial obstruction, preventing proper bladder emptying. This buildup of urine may eventually result in overflow incontinence, where urine leaks due to the bladder’s inability to hold more. Treating the underlying UTI with antibiotics and addressing the resulting bladder issues can help alleviate overflow incontinence.

    How do you treat overflow incontinence naturally?

    While the following natural solution can help to manage symptoms, they are not treatments. Natural approaches can complement medical treatments for overflow incontinence. These natural approaches include bladder training, fluid management, a healthy diet with fiber-rich foods, pelvic floor exercises, scheduled voiding, herbal remedies like saw palmetto or pumpkin seed extract, maintaining a healthy weight, stress management techniques, controlled fluid intake, and quitting smoking. However, consulting a healthcare professional before changing your treatment plan is crucial to ensure an effective and safe approach tailored to your specific needs.

    Find an Overflow Incontinence Solution with Parentgiving Today

    By embracing lifestyle adjustments, choosing suitable products, and adopting natural approaches, individuals can regain control over their daily routines and experiences. 

    Browse our wide selection of incontinence products to find the best overflow incontinence solution for you.