Why Does Someone Pee When They Cough?

Women during and after pregnancy or menopause and older people often experience urine leakage. The condition is called urinary incontinence and could be caused due to physiological changes or other conditions like diabetes and neurological disorders. Let us look at the risks factors associated with this condition and ways to mitigate risks of developing it.

1. Peeing when Coughing

The condition where you can’t hold urine or may leak some when you cough or sneeze is known as urinary incontinence. It is more commonly found in women and older people and may cause significant problems in one’s routine activities and day-to-day life in general.

2. What is Urinary Incontinence?

In simple words, urinary incontinence refers to the leaking of urine (pee) that one is unable to control. More commonly found in women and the elderly, urinary incontinence almost never goes away on its own and requires medical assistance.

3. What are the Risk Factors of developing urinary incontinence?

Here are a few risk factors that may make a person more susceptible to developing urine incontinence:

3.1. Gender

Women are more likely to develop stress incontinence; it could be due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or even the normal female anatomy. Health events unique to women may cause problems with their muscles and nerves and may lead to urine incontinence. About 1 in 3 women may suffer from urinary incontinence.

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Men who have prostate gland problems are at increased risk of developing urge and overflow incontinence.

3.2. Age

The risk of developing urinary incontinence increases with age. As you get older, the muscles in your bladder and urethra begin to lose their strength. This may increase the chances of involuntary urine release.

3.3. Excess Weight

Being overweight also makes you more susceptible to developing urinary incontinence. This is because excess fat in the body puts pressure on the urinary bladder and its surrounding muscles. This constant pressure weakens the muscles and may cause urine or pee to leak out the moment you cough or sneeze.

3.4. Smoking

Studies suggest that smoking increases the likeliness of developing urinary incontinence. This is because smokers may develop chronic coughs, which will put a huge amount of pressure on the pelvic muscles and weaken them, leading to urine incontinence.

3.5. Family History

If urine incontinence, especially urge incontinence, runs in your family, you are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

3.6. Certain Diseases

Certain diseases like diabetes and neurological diseases make people highly susceptible to urinary incontinence.

4. Types and Symptoms of urinary incontinence

Here are some major types of urine incontinence:

4.1. Stress Incontinence

This refers to leakage or involuntary release of urine due to increased intraabdominal pressure. In other words, stress incontinence refers to the unintentional release of urine when you cough or sneeze. Other physical activities that precipitate stress urinary incontinence include laughing, straining and exercising.

4.2. Urge Incontinence

This condition is characterised by a sudden compelling urge to urinate and is followed by involuntary leakage of urine. In simpler words, in case of urge incontinence, you will feel a sudden urge to pee and release urine unintentionally within the next few seconds. This type of urinary incontinence could be caused by minor conditions like infections or more chronic and severe conditions such as diabetes and neurological disorders. You may need to urinate often.

4.3. Overflow Incontinence

This kind of urine incontinence is more commonly found in men and causes constant leakage of urine or dribble. Urinary retention caused due to a bladder obstruction, an enlarged prostate, or certain other problems may cause the urinary bladder to get too full and overflow. It is a rare form of urinary incontinence.

4.4. Functional Incontinence

This condition is characterized by patients being unable to make it to the toilet in time due to another physical or mental impairment. It is more common in older people but can be found in younger adults as well. For instance, a person who has severe arthritis may not be able to unbutton his pants in time and leak urine.

4.5. Mixed Incontinence

This is a term used when a person experiences a combination of urge incontinence and stress incontinence. They experience symptoms of both these conditions; patients with mixed incontinence leak urine when they cough, sneeze or laugh, and also suffer from a sudden urge to urinate followed by involuntary release of urine.

5. What is Temporary Urinary Incontinence?

Some foods, drinks, and medications may act as diuretics (these help in reducing fluid buildup in the body). These include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, carbonated drinks and sparkling water, chili pepper, foods rich in spice, sugar, or acid, especially citrus fruits, large doses of Vitamin C, heart and blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives.

Other than this, temporary urinary incontinence could be caused by urinary tract infections (UTIs) or even something as minor as constipation.

6. What is Persistent Urinary Incontinence?

Underlying physical problems or changes in a person can also cause incontinence. These include pregnancy, childbirth, changes with age, menopause, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, obstruction, and neurological disorders.

6.1. Pregnancy

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About 40% to over half of women experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy. During the process of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes several physiological changes; there is an increase in abdominal pressure as well as progesterone levels, which may cause this condition. Also, injury to the pelvic floor could make her more susceptible to urinary incontinence.

6.2. Childbirth

Postpartum incontinence or urinary incontinence after childbirth is experienced by about 4 in every 10 women. Women who opt for normal delivery or natural delivery have a 50% higher chance of developing urinary incontinence compared to those who go for C-section or a cesarean delivery. Women with higher BMI (body mass index) or overweight women are also more likely to experience postpartum incontinence. Other than these factors, hormones, genes, and other lifestyle factors such as smoking make a woman more susceptible to urine incontinence after childbirth.

6.3. Changes with age

With age, the capacity of one’s urinary bladder decreases and thus the bladder is able to store less urine than before. The bladder can’t take as much pressure as before and this may lead to involuntary release of urine. Also, older people often develop diseases that make them more susceptible to developing urinary and/or even faecal incontinence. Moreover, involuntary bladder contractions happen more frequently as you get older.

6.4. Menopause

After menopause, oestrogen levels in a woman’s body drops drastically. The hormone estrogen is responsible for keeping pelvic and bladder muscles healthy; therefore, decreased levels of this hormone in a woman’s body following menopause may weaken the pelvic floor muscles and increase her risk of urinary incontinence.

6.5. Enlarged prostate

Particularly in older men, enlargement of the prostate gland (known as benign prostatic hyperplasia) is commonly found and can cause urinary incontinence.

6.6. Prostate cancer

Urge incontinence and stress incontinence found in men can sometimes be associated with untreated prostate cancer. Unfortunately, urinary incontinence in men is more often caused as a side effect of treatments for prostate cancer.

6.7. Obstruction

Blockage in your urinary tract will disrupt your normal flow of urine and lead to overflow incontinence. Such blockage could be caused by a tumor in your urinary tract; urinary stones, which are stone-like masses that are formed inside the urinary bladder, can also cause leakage of urine.

6.8. Neurological disorders

Conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, brain tumor, or spinal injuries can cause urinary incontinence as these conditions interfere with one’s nerve signals involved in bladder control.

7. Ways to decrease risks of developing urinary incontinence

Risks of developing urinary incontinence can be minimized by a combination of lifestyle changes, proper exercises, and treating underlying conditions that could cause it. We can try to prevent urinary incontinence by:

7.1. Maintaining Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, your chances of developing urinary incontinence are higher. This is because excess fat or weight puts enormous pressure on the pelvic muscles, which could make them weak, leading to incontinence. Therefore, to prevent this, it is important to maintain a healthy weight.

7.2. Staying Hydrated

stay hydrated
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As we all know, drinking adequate water is required to maintain good bladder health. Dehydration can irritate the urinary bladder and may also increase the chances of developing urinary tract infections or UTIs, which in turn may lead to incontinence. Therefore, it is important to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.

7.3. Pelvic Floor Exercises or Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises make your pelvic muscles stronger and strong pelvic muscles improve bladder control, thereby reducing the risks of urine incontinence. The results that you get from Kegel exercises depend on how frequently you do them. You should do your Kegel exercises daily; it is advised to do four sets of 10 reps to complete 40 Kegels per day. Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises can be useful for both men and women.

7.4. Avoiding Bladder Irritants

Certain substances such as caffeine and alcohol, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners and acidic foods may irritate your bladder so it is best to avoid them as much as possible. Bladder irritants may cause urinary incontinence so avoiding these items is a good way to prevent this condition.

7.5. Quitting Smoking

no smoking
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Smoking causes chronic cough in smokers; coughing too hard too often puts a lot of pressure on one’s pelvic and bladder muscles. This could lead to incontinence. Therefore, in order to prevent urinary incontinence, one needs to quit smoking as soon as possible.

7.6. Managing Chronic Conditions

Urinary incontinence could also be caused by other underlying conditions. In order to prevent it, the underlying or chronic conditions causing incontinence should be treated. Urinary incontinence can occur due to diabetes that weakens nerve function and other neurological disorders or certain other physical and mental impairments. Proper management of such conditions with proper medication, lifestyle changes and regular check ups will mitigate your risks of developing urinary incontinence.

7.7. Practising Good Bathroom Habits

Please do not hold urine for long periods as this can cause irritation in your bladder and weaken your bladder muscles. You should empty your bladder whenever you feel the need and make sure you empty it completely every time you urinate.

7.8. Limiting High-impact Exercises

Exercises that put a lot of strain on your pelvic muscles can weaken them and cause urinary incontinence. Therefore, it is advised to minimize high-impact exercises and include low-impact exercises in your daily exercise routine to avoid incontinence.

7.9. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized treatment for issues related to your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles that control your bladder and bowels and support the urinary as well as reproductive tracts. This therapy includes exercises that will help you relieve pain, discomfort, and other disruptions caused due to problems regarding your pelvic floor.

7.10. Being Selective About Medications

Certain medicines (known as diuretics) work by reducing fluid buildup in your body. They are also known as water pills and cause people to urinate more often, which contributes to urinary incontinence. If you face this as a side effect of any medication, inform your healthcare provider and consult them for alternative options to go for.

7.11. Exercising Regularly

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Perform moderate-intensity exercises regularly to keep your pelvic muscles strong and healthy. Exercising regularly will help you maintain healthy weight and prevent weight gain. Moreover, it will help you improve your muscle tone and support your overall bladder health.

7.12. Seeking Prompt Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections can lead to urinary incontinence. Symptoms of UTI include pain or burning during urination, increased frequency, and sudden compelling urge to urinate followed by urine leakage, and cloudy urine. If you experience any such symptom or more than one of these symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.

8. Conclusion

If you are experiencing urinary incontinence, seek medical help. Though it could be embarrassing to talk about, you need to consult a doctor to detect whether it is a result of other underlying conditions and to treat it and other conditions or infections that could be causing it. With proper management of chronic conditions, a healthy lifestyle, and adequate hydration, you can easily manage urine incontinence and mitigate the risks of developing it further.

Last Updated on December 19, 2023 by