Sneeze and Pee, How Embarrassing

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Achoo! Oops.

You just sneezed, and your nose is not the only thing that’s wet.

It’s embarrassing.

It’s normal.

It’s almost always fixable, and the solution may be easy.

Some urine leakage when you sneeze is one of the many examples of stress incontinence. It’s often the first one people notice starting in middle age or even earlier.

In time, that can become a lot of urine leakage with even a little movement. Bending down, laughing, coughing, jumping, sneezing, catching something thrown toward you, all become tests for your bladder. As the problem progresses, the leakage can be enough to show on your clothes or run down your leg.

While stress incontinence is a different condition than urge incontinence, the two can merge. That is especially likely to happen to women. Urge incontinence is when you start to urinate while thinking about it, sometimes failing to get to the bathroom on time even as you are running for it.  Men are likely to have stress incontinence mixed with overflow incontinence, otherwise known as dribbling.

Chances are you have already been told about Kegel exercises. They are meant to strengthen the pelvic floor so that you can control your bladder. They do help.  You can find instructions anywhere, so we won’t repeat them here. Because there are other nonsurgical strategies that get much less attention that may also work for you.

If your stress incontinence has expanded to include urge incontinence over time, it may help to work backward.

There is one trick a doctor friend told me about that works extremely well for some people. She says she has recommended it to several of her patients with good results. It’s a mind trick. Simply this—as you approach the john, while you are still dry, settle in position and tell yourself, “Everything is fine. No rush. I’m here; I’m safe. I can wait.” Then wait a few seconds before giving yourself permission to go.

It may seem too easy, but it can be effective if urge incontinence is a problem.

It is also a good idea if you have incontinence that appears suddenly or has rapidly become worse to have your urine checked for infection. That can occur at a level that is not obvious to you, but your bladder knows and objects.

Surprisingly, constipation can play a role, too. Straining to use the bathroom weakens the pelvic floor muscles. The answer to getting your incontinence under control might include some Kegels to get your muscles back on track along with a fiber supplement, stool softener, or other means of correcting your constipation.

Coffee could be a villain for some people. Caffeine and alcohol both can affect bladder control. The effect for people who react to these substances is worse when they are taken late in the day. That means giving up caffeine from afternoon onward. And don’t forget that it’s included in many soft drinks. Of course, that doesn’t answer for alcohol. Unlike our colonial forefathers, drinking beer for breakfast is frowned upon these days.

If these simple remedies don’t work, there are other nonsurgical answers that your doctor can help you pursue such as estrogen creams or anticholinergic medicines to calm the bladder. Because when the easy fixes fail, it’s time to talk to the doctor.


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