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Overflow Incontinence And Catheters

Do you find yourself frequently dribbling urine throughout the day? Does this happen even after you go to the bathroom? Does it feel like your bladder is never truly empty?

If you experience any of the above, you may be dealing with a condition sometimes known as overflow incontinence, which doctors may sometimes treat by prescribing the use of intermittent catheters.

What Is Overflow Incontinence?

Overflow incontinence refers to the overflow of urine from the bladder, which happens because the bladder isn’t emptying completely.

In other words, the bladder may still be retaining urine after going to the bathroom, which then leaks out involuntarily. This is also called incomplete bladder emptying or urinary bladder retention, which means the bladder is retaining urine even after an attempt to void.

But how does overflow incontinence happen?

What Causes Overflow Incontinence?

Overflow incontinence can happen due to a variety of different causes, just as with other types of incontinence.

Potential causes of overflow incontinence may include:

  • Damaged or aging bladder muscles

  • Weak pelvic floor muscles

  • Blockage of the urethra (could be due to an enlarged prostate or another obstruction)

  • Weak bladder or pelvic floor muscles

  • Nerve damage due to injury, such as a spinal cord injury, or another medical condition like Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis

  • Side effects from certain types of medication

  • Pregnancy and/or childbirth

These are just a few of the reasons why someone might experience overflow incontinence due to incomplete bladder emptying.

How Do I Manage Overflow Incontinence?

When you first begin to see signs of urinary incontinence, your first inclination may be to privately manage the issue by purchasing incontinence supplies like bladder pads or diapers. However, you should never self-diagnose or attempt to treat a serious bladder issue related to your bladder on your own.

A condition like overflow incontinence may mean that your bladder is not completely emptying on its own, or you could have a more serious underlying condition that’s causing these unusual symptoms.

While using incontinence supplies can definitely help catch any leakage, it’s not treating the root of the issue. You don’t have to live with overflow incontinence. There are ways to treat and even improve this condition, depending on each individual’s anatomy and unique circumstances.

That’s why it’s so important to speak to a qualified healthcare professional as soon as possible when you have symptoms of incontinence, incomplete bladder emptying, urinary retention, or something else related to your urinary system.

How Is Overflow Incontinence Diagnosed and Treated?

First, be sure to schedule an appointment to see your doctor or another qualified prescribing healthcare provider as soon as possible. You need to find out what may be causing this issue and get a prescribed treatment plan rather than attempting to self-diagnose and treat the issue on your own.

Concerned about talking about this issue with your doctor? Don’t worry. Their job is to help you get back to optimal health so you don’t have to constantly monitor and manage your incontinence issues.

They may perform a few tests to figure out the root cause of the issue, and then they’ll go over your treatment options, which may include easy lifestyle changes such as following a bladder retraining schedule or doing regular pelvic floor exercises.

Additionally, your doctor may prescribe clean intermittent catheterization to help empty your bladder, which may help reduce symptoms of overflow incontinence.

What Are Intermittent Catheters?

When you hear the word “catheter,” you might think of the old indwelling catheters, also known as Foley catheters. This type of catheter stays inside the bladder to allow urine to continuously drain into a receptacle such as a urinal or a drain bag. Unfortunately, indwelling catheters may sometimes lead to the overgrowth of bacteria and the increased risk of urinary tract, bladder, or even kidney infections. This is because indwelling Foley catheters stay fixed within the bladder and urethra for long periods of time.

These days, indwelling Foley catheters are more likely to be used in cases where the individual is physically incapacitated or unable to perform intermittent catheterization.

So what are intermittent catheters? Intermittent catheters are inserted at intervals throughout the day according to a prescribed schedule to drain the bladder, and then they are easily removed and thrown away. This ensures sterile catheterization every time, which may help reduce the risk of infection.

Plus, using intermittent catheters can provide more freedom and independence to individuals who don’t want to be connected to a drain bag or leg bag all day or night.

Catheters are primarily only prescribed in cases where the bladder is not able to fully empty urine on its own.

How Can Catheters Help With Overflow Incontinence?

If urine is still present in the bladder after you go to the bathroom, an intermittent catheter can be inserted to fully drain the remaining urine.

This may not only help with reducing overflow incontinence episodes, but it could also even reduce the risk of bladder infections or urinary tract infections caused by urine remaining in the bladder too long.

If your doctor determines that intermittent catheterization is the best route for your needs, you’ll be prescribed a certain number of times per day to self-catheterize (self-cath). They’ll also go over exactly how to insert and use a sterile catheter.

Plus, 180 Medical offers helpful, step-by-step instructions on their website for learning how to use catheters at howtocath.com.

What Types of Intermittent Catheters Are Available?

If your doctor has prescribed intermittent catheters to help with your overflow incontinence or urinary bladder retention, you may be wondering what options you have.

There are three main types of intermittent catheters: uncoated straight catheters, hydrophilic or prelubricated catheters, and closed system catheters.

Straight catheters are thin straight catheters that need to be lubricated before use. These are often the most economical choice, and many insurance plans cover these catheter types, including Medicare and many state Medicaid plans.

Hydrophilic catheters feature unique properties that activate with the application of water to act as a lubrication. Once activated, these catheters become slippery and ready to use. Some people prefer these due to their optimal comfort and ease of use.


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Lastly, closed system catheters are sterile catheters that are usually pre-lubricated and fully self-enclosed in their own integrated urine drain bag. Frequent travelers often like closed system catheters for their easy portability. Plus, people in wheelchairs prefer closed system catheters because they don’t have to transfer from their chair to a toilet in order to use this type of intermittent catheter. Also, closed system catheters can help facilitate an easy no-touch catheterization, which may further help reduce the risk of infection.

Where to Find Catheters Online

If you’ve been prescribed the use of intermittent catheters to treat your overflow incontinence issues, you need a trustworthy catheter company with reliable shipping, personalized service, high-quality catheters, and truly satisfied customers.

180 Medical has specialized in providing urinary catheters for two decades, and we pride ourselves on providing compassionate, caring customer service. With a team of friendly catheter specialists and one of the most reliable warehouses in the industry, 180 Medical can help you try out and select the urinary catheter that works and feels best for you, based on your doctor’s prescription and your health insurance coverage.

Contact 180 Medical today to get started!

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