Urinary incontinence is a problem which affects millions of men – especially older men – in the country. While it is generally caused by physiological factors like injuries or diseases, research shows that lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of incontinence in men. Smoking, in particular, is known to increase the risk of male urinary incontinence to a significant extent.
Smoking And Urinary Incontinence: What Is the Connection?
Research shows that smokers are at a higher risk of developing urinary incontinence compared to the general population. Even those who have stopped smoking – after smoking for a long period of time – are at a higher risk of developing bladder problems compared to those who have never smoked in their life.
There are several reasons why smoking can increase the risk of male urinary incontinence.
The Smoker’s Cough
Long-term smokers and chain smokers tend to develop a persistent cough – commonly known as the smoker’s cough. The incessant coughing puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor muscles and the urinary bladder. Over time, the muscles in these areas get weakened, leading to anatomical changes in the continence mechanism.
It can result in a condition called stress continence – an extremely common type of male urinary incontinence wherein you might leak urine whenever you:
- Lift weights
- Or engage in any physical activity that strains your bladder.
Increased Pressure on the Bladder
When you smoke, you tend to inhale deeply to fill your lungs with tobacco smoke. When you do, your diaphragm tends to contract and move downward so that your lungs have sufficient space to expand.
The lowering of the diaphragm tends to put a lot of pressure on your urinary bladder. As you keep smoking, the increased pressure caused by the downward contraction of the diaphragm weakens your bladder muscles, which can cause you to lose bladder control.
The Impact of Bladder Irritants
When you inhale tobacco smoke, the toxic chemicals contained in it tend to get absorbed into your bloodstream, filtered by your kidneys, and then pass through your bladder when you urinate.
Many of these chemicals – including nicotine – are bladder irritants that can damage the lining of your bladder and weaken your bladder muscles. So, the more your bladder comes into contact with these chemicals, the higher your chances of developing male urinary incontinence.
The bottom line is that if you are a smoker, you should quit smoking in order to reduce your risk of developing incontinence. There are support networks available to help you quit smoking and to safely deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
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