May 6 is World Asthma Day.

Even though asthma is a condition affecting the respiratory system, it can often has other impacts that aren’t quite as obvious.

Chronic coughing from conditions such as asthma contributes significantly to the risk of bladder leakage – also called stress urinary incontinence.

The reason for this essentially comes down to physics; it’s the result of greater downward force on the bladder (caused by the sneeze or cough) than the closure force of the urinary sphincter. The same thing can happen when people laugh or exercise.

When chronic coughing due to asthma, smoking or other lung conditions goes unchecked for a period of time, it can end up straining and weakening the pelvic floor muscles. 

One of the most important things we can do to help prevent this happening is to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles

They’re the sling-shaped muscles suspended from the tail bone to the public bone and between the sitting bones. As well as holding up our intestines, bladder and other pelvic organs they help close off our bladder and rectum.

Studies have shown consistently that pelvic floor exercises, when done correctly, reduce the likelihood of stress urinary incontinence.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not normal to have bladder leakage – light or otherwise. In the majority of cases it is preventable and quite treatable.

If we ignore urinary incontinence, it will only get worse. There’s plenty we can do about it.

  • For a start, see a health professional and treat the asthma or chronic cough.
  • Find out how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by visiting, consulting a continence physiotherapist or phoning the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

Now’s the season to pay attention to respiratory conditions like asthma – but don’t forget about your pelvic floor!