Overflow Incontinence Treatment - What are My Options?
Are you grappling with the challenges of overflow incontinence and seeking answers? Look no further! In this article, we'll unravel the mysteries surrounding this condition, but before we dive in, let's make sure we're on the same page about what overflow incontinence is, and what might have caused the issue.
What is Overflow Incontinence?
Overflow incontinence for the most part pertains to your bladder, the organ that holds urine before it is released. Incontinence in itself means the lack of control one has on their bladder; whereby urinary leaks occur involuntarily. The ‘overflow' part of this condition refers to the fact that this overflow incontinence occurs when your bladder is full and isn't emptying as well as it should. This occurs when you have the urge to urinate but find that you are unable to fully empty your bladder, only releasing a small amount, which is why the bladder gets too full, and “overflows”, releasing urine unexpectedly.
While this is an issue that often causes deep discomfort, and even some social humiliation and isolation, it is a very common issue, especially among women. In fact, as many as 1 in 3 Americans have some kind of urinary incontinence that causes involuntary leaks!
What Causes Overflow Incontinence?
So, this thing that stops the emptying of the bladder, that's what health experts usually call an obstruction or dysfunction in the urinary system. Usually, the most common of these would fall under one of 4 categories: bladder outlet obstructions, neurological disorders, weak bladder muscles, or as a side effect of medications or post-surgery. Let's look at those in detail:
Bladder Outlet Obstruction
Conditions that restrict or block the normal flow of urine out of the bladder can lead to overflow incontinence; think of it like a dam placed where there should be a normal flow of fluid. Examples of this include:
An Enlarged Prostate
In men, an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia) can obstruct the flow of urine.
Kidney stones, bladder stones, or urethral stones can cause blockages that prevent the bladder from emptying properly.
Cancerous or non-cancerous growths in the urinary system, such as bladder tumors or prostate cancer, can obstruct the normal flow of urine and lead to overflow incontinence.
Damage or dysfunction in the nerves that control bladder function can interfere with proper bladder emptying. This includes conditions such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and diabetic neuropathy! This is because uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves that control bladder function, leading to urinary retention and overflow incontinence. Conditions like spinal stenosis or spinal tumors also end up compressing the spinal cord, which can disrupt the nerve signals responsible for proper bladder emptying.
Weak Bladder Muscles
Weak or underactive bladder muscles can impair the ability of the bladder to contract and empty fully. This can occur due to conditions like long-term bladder distension, or with the prolapse of the pelvic organ! When the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs weaken or stretch, it can lead to a prolapse, causing blockages and urinary retention, which may manifest as overflow incontinence.
Medications / Post-Surgery
Certain medications, such as alpha-blockers used for the treatment of high blood pressure or prostate conditions, can interfere with bladder function, and contribute to overflow incontinence, usually by affecting nerve signals as well. Also, some surgical procedures, such as those involving the pelvic or urinary organs, can lead to temporary or permanent changes in bladder function, potentially causing overflow incontinence.
Treatments – Your Options
Disclaimer: If you recently noticed symptoms related to incontinence, it's highly advisable to consult a medical professional to determine causation through a physical examination and/or to discuss the proper treatment options prior to considering or attempting any of the treatment options suggested in this post.
As with most medical issues, depending on your preference or the severity of your overflow incontinence, you can either treat yourself naturally, or with the help of your healthcare provider. Let's look at your natural at-home options first:
The Double Voiding Technique
This technique involves going back to the bathroom and attempting to urinate again a few minutes after the initial void. Even though you weren't able to get them fully out the first time, the second time can help reduce residual urine volume and alleviate symptoms.
You can train your bladder by gradually increasing the intervals between bathroom visits and practicing timed voiding techniques! Much like exercising any other muscle, doing this over time can help retrain the bladder to hold larger volumes of urine and empty them more effectively.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
It's a great idea to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles through exercises, such as Kegels! Kegels are simply tightening your pelvic muscles while sitting down, when the bladder is empty, holding tight and counting to 3-5 seconds, releasing then repeating 10 times throughout the day! It's simple, but very effective.
Making dietary adjustments, such as avoiding bladder irritants like caffeine and alcohol, managing fluid intake, and maintaining a healthy weight, can all contribute to better bladder control!
If your condition is more serious and you're looking for a medical solution, here are your options:
Intermittent or indwelling catheterization is used when the incontinence is severe to empty the bladder and relieve symptoms. This means placing a catheter, a very thin tube, in the urethra itself. This might sound daunting, but the process is actually simple, and there are single-use catheters that are easy to carry on-the-go! Ask your doctor for help on how to place it.
Depending on the cause of overflow incontinence, medications may be prescribed to address specific issues. For example, alpha-blockers can help relax the muscles in the prostate, improving urine flow in men with enlarged prostates! There are many other options,
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove obstructions or correct underlying anatomical issues contributing to overflow incontinence. This includes procedures such as prostate surgery, bladder neck reconstruction, or the removal of urinary stones or tumors.
Please keep in mind that the information provided is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition or treatment options.
WellBefore and You
Whether you decide to try out some at-home exercises and techniques that will alleviate your incontinence symptoms, or you are about to start medications for it, there is also something you can do in the meantime: get yourself some good incontinence products. There are many things to keep in mind when purchasing an incontinence product, but you can rest assured that whatever it is you need, WellBefore has got you covered.
From pads to diapers, to briefs, WellBefore offers a fantastic collection of incontinence products sold in smaller packs and in bulk. They're offered in different sizes and absorbency levels so that you can ensure a perfect fit and no more embarrassing leaks! Check out our collection to start managing your incontinence like a pro.