Treatment for Overflow Incontinence

When tumors or urinary stones are present, treatment for overflow incontinence involves removal of the obstruction.

Medication to Treat Overflow Incontinence

Alpha-1-adrenergic blocking agents are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate). Alpha blockers relax striated and smooth muscle, decreasing urethral resistance and relieving symptoms. Drugs commonly prescribed for treatment of BPH and associated overflow incontinence include:

  • Doxazosin mesylate (Cardura), 1–8 mg, once daily
  • Tamulosin hydrochloride (Flomax), 0.4–0.8 mg, once daily
  • Terazosin hycrochloride (Hytrin), 1–10 mg, once daily

Common side effects experienced with this type of medication include the following:

  • dizziness,
  • fatigue, and
  • headache.

An anticholinergic medication like oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan) can be used to treat overflow incontinence associated with a nervous system disorder (e.g., Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy). Oxybutynin relaxes bladder smooth muscle. The typical dosage is 2.5-5.0 mg, taken orally, 3 to 4 times per day.

Side effects experienced with this medication include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision

Intermittent Self-Catheterization to Treat Overflow Incontinence

Medical treatment for patients with a neurogenic bladder and overflow incontinence is fairly limited. Intermittent self-catheterization is a safe and effective method of completely emptying the bladder every 3 to 8 hours, or as recommended by a physician, to keep urine volume low. Fluid intake is directly related to urine output and the frequency of catheterization. Normal fluid intake is 48 to 64 ounces per day.

Catheterization should not be skipped for any reason. If the catheter accidentally drops and cannot be washed properly, wipe it off and remove as much dirt as possible before using it. It is more important to empty your bladder than to have an absolutely clean catheter. The risk for infection is greater from a full bladder than from an unwashed catheter.

These signs and symptoms may indicate that the bladder needs emptying:

  • Chills
  • Distended bladder
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Headache
  • Perspiration
  • Restlessness

For more information, see instructions on self-catheterization.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015