Asthma & Incontinence

Hi folks-

I'm returning here after a brief appearance several years back. Im a difficult/severe asthmatic with cough variant asthma symptoms. A really really violent cough which is persistant for weeks during an exacerbation.

Over the last 10 years I've progressively developed urinary incontinence- it started off being mild leaks, only during acute attacks etc. With time it became quite an issue during attacks and still some problems when I was ""healthy"". I went around 4years without any acute exacerbations of my asthma but in the past year things have deteriorated- Im currently on my 4th course of steroids of the year and have had 3 admissions, with 7 nights just before Christmas, treated in resus and on ITU on call/standby for 24hrs but I was fortunately not taken up. This has had a really big impact on my continence.

Before Christmas I was in pull up nappies for almost a month, and when really ill was requiring bed pads and 2 or 3 changes of pjs a day due to leakage from the nappies. Since then I've been having leakage several times a day and have accidents atleast once a week.

Im 26yrs old. Ive not had any kids. It is really upsetting me, making me paranoid and having lots of knock on effects like thrush rash on my thighs, UTI symptoms etc- none of which is being helped by the 4.5 stone I have gained in weight in the last year, mostly down to all the pred I have been on.

I had my first womens health physio appointment today (almost a year after my original referral). I wasn't sure what to expect, I wondered if I was making a big deal over nothing much but turns out things are quite bad (or loose in the old pelvic floor department!). The intensity of the coughing means I no longer have any control over my pelvic floor other than making it twitch- I have no ability to hold at all, where as the usual patient at the clinic would be able to hold for about 5 seconds before loosing power- they want you to be able to hold for 10 seconds for a healthy pelvic floor. I have my exercises to do and a rather comical looking probe to use to help me to see if im doing things right but I've got a lot of work to do. They said it could be 3 months before I see any improvement.

I've come away feeling both better and worse. Better that im not being silly, making a fuss over nothing, and they are going to help me- but also really upest by just how bad things are. The physio lady seemed to be genuinely shocked, at both how long this has been going on for and how little strength I have. This is usually a problem for women who've had children or in later life. Not mid-20's pre children. If its this bad now and my asthma is deteriorating.....?! I have a gut feeling im going to end up needing an operation at some point down the line- but is that a permanent solution or not?!

Please tell me i'm not alone and its just one of those subjects that people just don't talk about normally! It's not the sort of thing I can talk to my friends about- who wants to admit they need nappies at 26 eh?! Its hard enough getting them to understand how poorly I was before Christmas and how the steroids effect me in terms of energy levels when I come off them (I have cfs/me and the steroid withdrawel causes me to relapse). Is there anyone out there going through similar problems because of their asthma?

5 Replies

  • Hiya you are Not Alone in this problem. I suffer with this problem ESP when my Gps put me in Steroids, I have to either sitdown or be on the toilet. It's very Embarrasing have to wear Tena Ladies when I have this problem also have Kidney Pain and cystitis when on steroids

  • Hi Cassandra, sorry to hear you suffer too, but reassuring to know I am not alone.

    Im off to physio again tomorrow. Have been doing the exercises and there has been a tiny bit of improvement but nothing vast.

    Have you spoken to your Dr about it? Tena are not enjoyable but less embarrassing than wet clothes :(

  • Hi sorry to hear of your problems, that sounds no fun at all . Does the physio think your coughing is causing it? A friend of mine was in a similar situation but for totally different reasons. She eventually had surgery . I was interested to hear you mentioning chronic fatigue , I am a fellow sufferer and felt awful for a couple of days after coming off 3 week course of pred in January. Felt I was going to relapse but managed to pick up. Sorry to hear you struggle when you come off it. Glad your exercises are starting to help. Take care x

  • I had an absolutely dreadful cough last summer that was causing me significant problems. I wasn't just leaking , I was forcefully voiding my bladder - it was NOT fun. Though I never put on adult nappies, I did go through a lot of sanitary pads and underwear. One thing I found that helped me was being very quick to use my reliever at the first sign of an asthma cough. It stopped the severe cough dead in its tracks, and saved me many pairs of underwear once I started doing that regularly.

    At present the cough from hell is gone and the most that happens is some minor leaking. On really bad asthma days, I often throw an extra pair of undies in my knapsack or purse, just in case.

  • I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. As if a severe asthma attack isn't bad enough , then we have to deal with this too. I've also had to rely on Tena pads and pants. I'm currently in hospital recovering from a bad asthma attack. I'm using pads but during a particularly bad coughing fit I still get leaks. I get so paranoid about smell etc that I spray my pjs with perfume but I've gone through so many pairs since I was admitted early Fri morning.

    Glad you are getting support from physio and I hope you start to make progress.

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