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