Incontinence & Smoking – What’s the connection?

The bad effects smoking has on our health and lungs is common knowledge, but what most of us don’t know is that smoking also releases chemicals and toxics when inhaled from a single cigarette which through the course of the body can affect nearly every cell, system and organ.

Smoking leads to multiple health problems with the release and build up of those chemicals and toxins, increasing the risk of sudden death, cardiovascular disease and a number of urological conditions.

Here are 4 urological conditions associated with smoking and which can affect incontinence:

  1. Bladder cancer – men are three to four times more likely to get bladder cancer then women are, becomes more common as you age and as many precautions as possible should be taken. Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder mutate and replicate, forming growths and attributing to a range of urological side effects including incontinence. Quitting smoking is important to reduce the chances of developing bladder cancer. The chemicals in cigarettes affect the lining of the bladder and therefore increase the risk of dangerous mutations.
  2. Overactive bladder – smoking can cause an overactive bladder which is a condition where you feel the need to use the bathroom more frequently, regardless of if your bladder is actually full or not. An overactive bladder can cause disruptions to your sleep schedule by causing you to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to urinate, leading to incontinence.
  3. Interstitial Cystitis – also known as painful bladder syndrome and can cause you to feel chronic pain and pressure in the bladder area. You can also experience urinary tract infection symptoms without the presence of an infection. Smoking causes inflammation and is a major irritant to the bladder, therefore making interstitial cystitis worse or more painful over time and can lead to incontinence issues.
  4. Prostate cancer – smoking increases inflammation in your body, including in your prostate, which increases your risk for developing cancer, It is found that smoking tends to make the disease more aggressive and therefore harder to treat and can lead to incontinence. The oxidative damage is easily avoidable, all you need to do is quit smoking.

Although the chances of incontinence increases with your age, the symptoms and occurrences can become more severe when you smoke. There are a number of conditions including erectile dysfunction, infertility, kidney cancer and kidney stones that can be impacted by smoking and can cause, or significantly worsen incontinence if no action is taken.  Smoking increases the frequency of urination and causes serious coughing fits that can lead to urine leakage. While there are a number of things you can do to treat incontinence a well devised smoking cessation plan should be at the top of your list. By quitting smoking you are preventing those chemicals and toxins from entering the body causing damage and reducing the possibility of causing incontinence. While in most cases its extremely hard to quit, it is possible. If you are a smoker, to take back your health, quitting smoking is the best option moving forward. But, if you are trying to quit and are having troubles, talk with your doctor about establishing a smoking cessation plan. Always discuss your concerns with your doctor or health professional in regards to treatment options and plans suitable for your situation.

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