Asthma UK community forum
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Well first I'll say hi, I've been lurking on this site for at least a year and never felt brave enough to post!

Basically, I guess I'm looking for some support/reassurance....

I've just been discharged from a stint in hospital.

It started with me feeling unwell at work, I rapidly deteriorated and went into respiratory arrest, one of the last things I can remember is being incontinent of urine. Then a few nights later I was really poorly again, I don't remember much but I was once again, incontinent of urine.

This has NEVER happened to me before. I feel so humiliated. The respiratory arrest happened at work, my colleagues attended to me, I've been assured that 'only a few people' were aware of what happened as everyone else was more concerned by the fact that I couldn't breathe. (I'm a nurse and luckily was surrounded by some very experienced people who took care of me)

I'm not quite so upset over it happening the second time whilst I was in hospital, worse things can and have happened. It's embarrassing but I can deal with that incident... But it happening infront of my colleagues is another matter entirely....

Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Sorry for the long post. I guess there is something wrong that I'm more concerned about being incontinent during life threatening asthma attacks rather than being concerned about the asthma attacks themselves (lol) but I feel so humiliated over this :-(

12 Replies


when the body is under huge stresses, it will often get rid of unwanted stuff for various reasons.

Epileptics can wet and soil them selves but I think that is due to the muscle spasms.

Anaphylaxis and allergic reactions can make you vomit and also loose bladder & bowel control too.

Shock too can make your body expel stuff. Extreme fear also produces similar effects.

I am sure there is someone here more medically knowledgeable on the subject who can explain in more detail....

Please don't worry about it too much, I know it can be very embarasing. Happened once to me in Rescus.

It is amazing what we think about when we are having a severe asthma attack......... usually something else apart from the breathing!

Take care



Glitterdust - sending huge hugs i really feel for you having that happen in front of your colleagues but they are all professional and should have taken it with a pinch of salt. Like Kate says our body does strange things under times of stress.

I can relate to how you are feeling as it has happened to me twice once in resus just before i was tubed and the second when i preparing to use the commode first time after having a catheter removed i had a coughing fit complete with bladder incontinence and that happened in front of a friend from church - i was mortified - ironically enough she is a nurse which did make it easier.

I now just in case wear tena lady extra when im really struggling more for peace of mind.

maybe you are focusing on the 'accident as the thought of the attack is more frightening to you? was this your first resp arrest? take care xxx


Re body doing strange things.

Last year, I came around a corner of the road home and was faced with a wall of thick fog for the 8 miles home. Trees further down had masked the fog further up. Slowed to a crawl and almost at the same time went oh-no. A week later the weather on that road became a severe blizzard. Same result as last time. :(

PS Talking with friends, its something that's happened to all of us at some time.


Thank you so much for your replies. I'm still not exactly looking forward to returning to work and facing my colleagues but I guess it could have been worse... I'm trying to keep in mind if this was the other way around then I know for sure that wouldn't be thinking about anything but trying to keep this person alive.

hopalongkp; no unfortunately this wasn't my first respiratory arrest. I guess there is no explanation as to why it happened this time and not previous times.

Thanks again :-)

Dawn x


I know it's been a long time since you posted this but I only just now found it. :-) I have asthma, have had since I was a kid. I'm now 42. I also Jane COPD. Starting about 3 years ago, every time - every single time - I've had an asthma attack or gone into respiratory arrest, I become urine incontinent. It's happened in hospital, at the mall, paying my rent, anywhere. And I don't mean a little. I full on pee all over myself, and everything around me. I'm mortified to the point I no longer want to leave my house, but what choice do I have? It's beyond embarrassing but it's out of my control and I'm not going to let it ruin my life. I'm only human and like all other humans, I pee. Hope this helps. ❤


I've never had incontinence as a result of my asthma however I do quite frequently have seizure and often loose control of my bladder during these. To me waking up and feeling wet is the worst feeling ever. Despite during one bad episode where I had multiple fits, a non-stop nose bleed becaue of fluctuating blood pressure and very low sats, the worst thing is knowing you've 'wet'

despite this though all my friends were excellent who had seen it and considering were only 15 ish took it really well. Most of the time people don't even consider it because the cause is what scared them



I used to laugh when older people around me used to say they were coughing till they wet themselves (im 25, 26 tomorrow!) and then before i got my diagnosis my cough was so bad that i'd dribble and might aswell have wet myself! (i also broke 2 ribs from the coughing fits 8 weeks before i was diagnosed which made the breathing tests very painful!)


Dont worry everyone will be glad your ok rather than the fact you had an accident which obviously you couldnt control. I've done this during severe attacks especially when I was younger and used to panic. I also have epilepsy and often during seizures I've lost full bladder/bowel control.

Please try not to worry.




Now i feel silly but what is a respiratory arrest? I not heard of it before but i have been in resus before and narrowly missed being tubed twice now but that the end of knowledge. My last infecton my bladder did opposite and didnt work is that normal too?



Plumie a respiratory arrest is when you stop breathing and go unconcious, some times followed by a cardiac arrest. if artificial respiration (breathing for the person) is quicky started though this can be avoided. I've had 2, once when I was 16 and then again when I was 20 usually cuased by sudden onset of symtoms in my case.


Hi folks,

Clare I was really interested in the fact that your resp arrest came after rapid onset symptoms. I had one resp arrest a few years ago, I've been told I'm brittle type 2 and that particular attack hit out of the blue and I went down hard and fast. Was at the GP's surgery when the attack began so had help on hand immediately but it still resulted in a scary situation.

Does anyone else who's had this know if speed of the onset is more likely to increase the risk of a resp arrest?

I'm struggling a bit at the moment, now on seretide 250/25, ventolin and atrovent prn. Waiting for allergy testing and to go back to see cons.

As regards the incontinence I've not had a ""flood"" but ever since my arrest if I get a bad coughing fit then things have been too close for comfort a couple of times and dribbling is def. a problem.

I'm a nurse too and I know what you mean about the embarrassment factor but you know yourself that it would have just passed most people by - they may have registered it sure, but they know how strange the body can be in situations like that and I'm pretty sure they're just thankful that you're ok. Clinical detachment kicks in - even if it's a colleague who's a friend - has to so that you can treat the person effectively.

Take care



All i can say is thank heavens for Tena Lady as if i start coughing i flow even if i have just been to the

Take Care

H Mama


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