It’s no secret that smoking is associated with a variety of health issues, such as an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But what many people don’t realize is that smoking impacts other areas of the body aside from the heart and lungs. Yes, smoking can also have an impact on your bladder, as it’s estimated that smokers are three times more likely to experience incontinence, or the involuntary loss of urine, than non-smokers.
Specifically, the most common type of incontinence experienced by smokers is stress incontinence. This article will take a closer look at the link between smoking and urinary incontinence.
Smoking and Urinary Incontinence
The type of incontinence that is most commonly associated with cigarette smoking is stress incontinence. That’s because smokers, over time, are likely to develop a chronic cough – and every time smokers cough, they’re potentially putting pressure on the bladder muscles and weakening or damaging them. If the bladder muscles aren’t strong enough, and the person has a full bladder, something’s going to give. Hence, that’s where urine leakage commonly occurs.
Aside from putting pressure on the bladder, smoking is also a known bladder irritant, which can cause more frequent and urgent urination. And perhaps most alarmingly, urge incontinence and frequent urination can be signs of bladder cancer, which is common among smokers.
Reducing Incontinence Symptoms for Smokers
Obviously, the best way for smokers to kick stress incontinence is by quitting smoking. Ex-smokers who experienced urinary incontinence will likely see their symptoms clear up as soon as their chronic cough clears up, as well as see signs of frequent and urgent urination dwindle as well. However, stopping smoking is much easier said than done. Here’s a look at some alternatives and some suggestions to stopping smoking altogether:
- Try e-cigs: Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, contain nicotine, but are absent of the harmful tobacco that is found in traditional cigarettes which often lead to chronic coughing and other side effects.
- Pelvic muscles: Strengthening the pelvic muscles with regular pelvic floor exercises can help build up strength in your body’s core, thereby reducing the chance of involuntary urination. “Training” the bladder as a means of strengthening the muscles can also help in minimizing incontinence symptoms.
- Other products: There are a variety of other products that can help someone manage incontinence, from incontinence briefs and incontinence bed pads, to prescribed medication that can help alleviate symptoms.
As you can see, smoking and incontinence are directly related. What’s more is that incontinence symptoms in smokers can even worsen over time, as chronic coughing gets worse, if the proper fixes or steps aren’t taken.
For more information on treating your incontinence, visit our incontinence resource center.