Drip incontinence occurs when the bladder is literally ‘overflowing’. As people with drip incontinence are not able to empty their bladders entirely, the bladder becomes overfilled, eventually resulting in drips of overflow urine. An estimated 10 to 15% of people with incontinence suffer from drip incontinence. Unlike other types of incontinence, drip incontinence is more common in men than women. In addition, drip incontinence occurs more frequently in older people.

However, gender and age are not direct causes of drip incontinence. There are usually underlying problems such as prostate problems, (benign) prostrate enlargement, swelling in the ovaries and uterus, diabetes, or the use of certain medications such as antidepressants.

How the bladder works

In order to understand drip incontinence, it’s important to also understand how the bladder works. Urine is produced in the kidneys and then flows to the bladder. If the bladder is almost full, the area between the ureters and urethra begins is slightly stretched to accommodate. This stretching activates nerves in the bladder wall that send a signal to the brain that the bladder is filling. When the brain receives that signal, it stimulates the muscles around the bladder wall to contract and sends another signal to the sphincter to relax. This is the process that allows you to urinate.

Drip incontinence occurs if the sensory nerves of the muscles around the bladder do not function properly. If the nerves don’t allow for the signals to be sent between the brain and the bladder wall, the bladder will not function properly making it impossible or difficult to urinate.

Causes of Drip Incontinence

Drip incontinence is more common in older men as it’s often related to prostate problems that can arise from the growth of the prostate that goes along with aging. Because the prostate is positioned against the urethra compression leaves less room for the urine, resulting in an inability to empty the entire bladder.

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In women, the different causes behind drip incontinence include swelling in the ovaries or prolapse of the uterus. As well as kidney stones in the urethra and operations of or around the bladder which can also (temporarily) cause drip incontinence. In children, a congenital abnormality may be the cause behind drip incontinence.

For people with diabetes, the nerves that control the muscles in the bladder can become damaged which results in them being unable to contract properly. If this occurs, the bladder may become overfilled eventually overflowing without the person ever feeling the urge to go to the toilet.

Solutions for Drip Incontinence

Because drip incontinence can eventually lead to kidney problems, consulting a doctor is especially important. Drip incontinence cannot always be distinguished from other types of incontinence so a doctor will perform a physical examination in addition to asking the patient to keep a urination diary.

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Many men live with drip incontinence and other prostate problems for a long time without addressing it. By addressing the issue early, the causes behind drip incontinence can be examined and further prevent any uncomfortable or serious side effects.

Sometimes drip incontinence in women can be treated with pelvic floor therapy, while swelling of the ovaries or uterus can be removed through surgery. But learning how to manage drip incontinence with the right products can help comfort while determining the right solution for you.

Abena offers a wide range of incontinence pads to help with continence management. Designed with maximum comfort, optimum discretion and leakage protection, their range of products can help you manage any type of incontinence the right way.