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The Link Between Smoking and an Overactive Bladder

Jun 02, 2023
The Link Between Smoking and an Overactive Bladder
Overactive bladder is a common condition notorious for causing frequent urges and incontinence, but what does smoking have to do with it? Read on as we highlight the link between smoking and overactive bladder 一 and what you can do about it.

An overactive bladder is a common condition that affects 30% of men and up to 40% of women. It is characterized by frequent and sudden urges to urinate, often leading to incontinence. While several factors can contribute to the development of an overactive bladder, smoking is a surprising one. 

Our board-certified urologists at Bellingham Urology Group treat overactive bladders in our Bellingham and Mount Vernon, Washington, locations, but even with the right treatments, it’s important to understand how smoking can exacerbate the condition. 

Read on as we explore the link between smoking and an overactive bladder, shedding light on the potential risks and providing motivation for smokers to quit.

Understanding overactive bladder

Before delving into the relationship between smoking and an overactive bladder, let's first understand what an overactive bladder is. An overactive bladder occurs when your bladder muscles contract involuntarily, causing a frequent and urgent need to urinate. People with this condition may experience leakage, known as urinary incontinence, which can significantly impact their quality of life.

The relationship between smoking and overactive bladder

Research suggests that smoking can contribute to the development and worsening of an overactive bladder. Here are several ways in which smoking is believed to impact bladder function:

Bladder irritation

The chemicals present in cigarettes, such as nicotine and tar, can irritate your bladder lining, leading to inflammation and increased sensitivity. This irritation can exacerbate the symptoms of an overactive bladder.

Reduced bladder capacity

Smoking has been associated with a decrease in bladder capacity, meaning the bladder can hold less urine before feeling the urge to empty. This reduced capacity can intensify the frequency and urgency of urination.

Coughing and sneezing

Smoking often leads to chronic coughing, which can put additional strain on the bladder muscles. The repeated pressure caused by coughing and sneezing can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, making it more difficult to control urination.

Decreased blood flow

Smoking is known to constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to various organs, including the bladder. Insufficient blood supply can impair bladder function and contribute to the development of an overactive bladder.

Quitting smoking for a healthier bladder

If you’re a smoker and suffer from an overactive bladder, quitting smoking can significantly improve your condition. Here are some reasons to consider quitting:

Symptom improvement

Research suggests that quitting smoking can lead to a reduction in overactive bladder symptoms, such as urgency and frequency of urination. Your bladder may become less irritated, and your overall bladder control may improve.

Enhanced bladder health

By quitting smoking, you will allow your bladder to heal and recover from the damage caused by cigarette toxins. This can lead to a healthier bladder and improved bladder function.

Reduced risk of other complications

Smoking has been linked to several other health conditions, such as bladder cancer and urinary tract infections, which can further aggravate bladder problems. Quitting smoking decreases your risk of developing these complications.

Overall health benefits

Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits beyond bladder health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems and improves overall well-being.

Help for overactive bladder in Washington

The link between smoking and an overactive bladder is concerning and highlights the importance of quitting smoking for the sake of bladder health. Smoking not only irritates the bladder but also affects bladder capacity, blood flow, and the strength of pelvic floor muscles. 

By quitting smoking, individuals with an overactive bladder can experience improved symptom relief, improved bladder function, and a reduced risk of complications. If you are a smoker struggling with an overactive bladder, consider reaching out to the free Washington State Quit Line or to the healthcare professionals here at Bellingham Urology Group for guidance and support in your journey to quit smoking. Curran Emeruwa, MD, John Pettit, MD, Mackenzie Epler, PA-C, and Eleni Zobolas, ARNP are more than happy to help you get the relief you need.

Call either of our locations or send us a message online today. Your bladder — and your overall health — will thank you.

To learn more about treatment options for overactive bladder, schedule an appointment at the location closest to you.