How to Cope With Incontinence From a Chronic Cough
by Gary Sattin on Oct 05, 2022
Coughing, our body’s way of clearing the throat and ridding the body of allergens and other foreign substances, can seem to cause more harm than good.
If you have asthma, serious allergies, or routinely get sick because of a compromised immune system, you may deal with a chronic cough more than others you know. As you deal with your symptoms, a sudden cough may cause you to lose control of your bladder unexpectedly. These episodes are embarrassing, but understanding why they happen and how to cope with incontinence from a chronic cough makes a big difference.
Why Coughing Contributes to Incontinence
First, let’s learn why coughing exacerbates incontinence. One cough shouldn’t be an issue, but over time, the repeated coughing motion wears down the pelvic muscles. Coughing induces stress incontinence, which is the type of incontinence resulting from physical pressure put on your bladder that overwhelms your body’s controls against sudden urination. When your pelvic muscles weaken or experience fatigue, they can’t protect your underlying bladder from coughing impacts.
Diligently Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
To lessen your fear of coughing and losing control, be consistent about exercising your pelvic muscles so the barrier above your bladder is healthy. Kegel exercises are the most common intervention here. Boiled down, they involve clenching and unclenching the muscles you use to stop your urine flow. Performing sets of repetitions each day helps you build back strength you don’t have because of your chronic cough.
To directly change how your coughs affect you, adjust your posture and implement “the knack.”
Controlled coughing while sitting or standing with a straightened back helps, as does leaning slightly forward as you do so. This type of coughing helps you clear whatever you need to and limit the number of times you cough overall.
Meanwhile, to compensate for a weak pelvic floor, the knack maneuver comes in handy. It involves preemptively contracting your pelvic muscles before you cough (perhaps a controlled cough) to place less coughing pressure on your bladder. Those with an adequately strong pelvic floor do this automatically, but before you regain muscle mass and control, this intentional practice helps.
Wear Incontinence Products
Another way to cope with incontinence from a chronic cough is to use incontinence products. On the whole, reusable underwear or a similar garment affords immediate freedom as you deal with the unpredictability of coughing. Also, for those dealing with other conditions that contribute to incontinence such as diabetes, cancer, and menopause, incontinence products help you avoid feeling like your life is snowballing out of control. Wearing them doesn’t halt your symptoms, but it restores a sense of agency and initiative you may be lacking.