Overflow incontinence occurs when the patient's bladder is always full so that it frequently leaks urine. Weak bladder muscles, resulting in incomplete emptying of the bladder, or a blocked urethra can cause this type of incontinence. Autonomic neuropathy from diabetes or other diseases (e.g. Multiple sclerosis) can decrease neural signals from the bladder (allowing for overfilling) and may also decrease the expulsion of urine by the detrusor muscle (allowing for urinary retention). Additionally, tumors and kidney stones can block the urethra. Spinal cord injuries or nervous system disorders are additional causes of overflow incontinence. In men, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may also restrict the flow of urine. Overflow incontinence is rare in women, although sometimes it is caused by fibroid or ovarian tumors. Also overflow incontinence can be from increased outlet resistance from advanced vaginal prolapse causing a "kink" in the urethra or after an anti-incontinence procedure which has overcorrected the problem. Early symptoms include a hesitant or slow stream of urine during voluntary urination. Anticholinergic medications may worsen overflow incontinence. NSAIDs medications may worsen overflow incontinence.
If an incontinence is due to overflow incontinence, in which the bladder never empties completely, or if the bladder cannot empty because of poor muscle tone, past surgery, or spinal cord injury, a catheter may be used to empty the bladder. A catheter is a tube that can be inserted through the urethra into the bladder to drain urine. Catheters may be used once in a while or on a constant basis, in which case the tube connects to a bag that is attached to the leg. If a long-term (or indwelling) catheter is used, urinary tract infections may occur.