Stress Urinary Incontinence and Chronic Cough

Living with stress urinary incontinence due to a chronic or persistent cough can be embarrassing, inconvenient, or frustrating. The pattern can be unique as the women themselves. From a “dribble” to a “flood,” from events that only occur at night, to events that occur with each cough; from coughing so hard you throw up, to having a constant tickle in the back of the throat.

What is Stress Urinary Incontinence ― Due to Chronic Cough?

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) means you leak urine unintentionally as a result of pressure, or stress, on your bladder. This stress happens during physical movements or activities, such as coughing, sneezing, running, laughing, or lifting. If you have a persistent cough and leak urine when you cough, you may have cSUI. However, you do not have to leak every time you cough to have cSUI.

Stress incontinence is different from urgency incontinence and overactive bladder (OAB). If you have urgency incontinence or OAB, your bladder muscle contracts, causing a sudden urge to urinate before you can get to the bathroom. Stress incontinence is much more common in women than in men, affecting 1 in 3 women in their lifetimes. There are some misconceptions that stress urinary incontinence is something that senior women experience. This perception of an elderly condition often leads to the stigma reported by patients. However, it is more likely to develop when a woman is 37 years of age or more, but the age of onset can vary for those with and without kids.

There are some other factors that may contribute to cSUI:

  • Type of childbirth delivery
  • Body weight
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Factors that may contribute to persistent cough, such as smoking or allergies

The Impact of Stress Urinary Incontinence ― Due to Chronic Cough?

On a daily basis women’s lives are being impacted directly by their cSUI symptoms, and the lifestyle changes and modifications that they have made to cope with these symptoms. For many women, the impact stress urinary incontinence has on their self-esteem is largely related to the need to change how they dress. From wearing bulky pads, to only wearing dark and loose clothes. They are constantly preparing because they don’t want any embarrassment or shame associated with peeing while coughing.

More Impacts:

  • Always having extra changes of clothes
  • Packing backup hygiene products and underwear
  • Avoiding social activities and exercise
  • Planning for the distance and time of their commute or other travel
  • Wearing only dark clothing
  • Wearing clothes that can hide leaks or disguise oversized pads
  • Not drinking as much fluid
  • Planning day around bathroom locations

You Are Not Alone

Although you may find the conversation difficult or embarrassing you should not be afraid to talk to your health care professional about what you are experiencing. By talking with your health care professional, you can find out why you leak urine when you cough and what kind of treatment is best for you. If the problem remains untreated it could get worse. There are therapies and treatments available to help address urinary leaking. Your doctor may recommend behavioral changes, such as pelvic exercises, adjusting how much you drink and when you drink or quitting smoking. Other potential therapies include the use of external devices designed to control leaking or surgical options. One study found that up to 20 percent of women may need surgery for stress incontinence or a pelvic organ prolapse by the time they are 80 years old. Today, more women are getting surgery to treat SUI than ever before. Remember, incontinence is not a disease: it is a symptom of one or more of a wide range of conditions, so be sure to reach out to your health care professional.

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