Overflow incontinence is one of several different types of incontinence, the inability to control urination. Overflow incontinence occurs when you are unable to completely empty your bladder; this leads to overflow, which leaks out unexpectedly. You may or may not sense that your bladder is full. The leakage, which can cause embarrassment and discomfort, is not the only problem. Urine left in the bladder is a breeding ground for bacteria. This can lead to repeated urinary tract infections.
They may be family -- but having an incontinence accident while staying in another person's home can be awkward and embarrassing. How do you explain the wet sheets? How can you dispose of used incontinence pads? Is incontinence keeping you from visiting friends and family?
"One of my patients was afraid she would wet the bed," says May Wakamatsu, MD, chief of Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "She stopped sleeping at her daughter's house because of it...
Unlike other types of incontinence, overflow incontinence is more common in men than women. The most common cause in men is an enlarged prostate, which impedes the flow of urine out of the bladder. Other possible causes of overflow incontinence include:
Blockages of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body) from tumors, urinary stones, scar tissue, swelling from infection, or kinks caused by dropping of the bladder within the abdomen
Weak bladder muscles, which are unable to squeeze the bladder empty
If you have problems with incontinence, it's important to speak with your doctor. Determining the type you have and the best treatment for it will begin with describing the problem. Your doctor may ask questions such as:
How often do you go to the bathroom?
When you go to the bathroom, do you have trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine?
Do you leak urine during certain activities?
Do you leak constantly?
Do you leak urine before you get to the bathroom?
Do you experience pain or burning when you urinate?