Hay Fever and Incontinence

Hay fever alone is an irritating affliction but, combined with incontinence, and it can be downright exasperating.

What is hay fever?

Scientifically known as Allergic Rhinitis, hay fever described the condition where the nose and/or eyes react to pollutants in the environment, including pollens, dust mites and animal hair.

Symptoms can include:

  • Repeated, uncontrollable sneezing
  • A runny nose
  • Watering eyes
  • Itchy throat, eyes and nose

How common is it?

According to the Australian Government website, around 15% of Australians suffer from hay fever. It’s more common among women, more common among people aged 25-44 and the ACT and Western Australia report the highest incidence.

In New Zealand, the problem may be worse with Allegy.org.nz stating that around 20% of New Zealanders have the condition.

And in the UK, this Pharmacy Magazine article warns their rate is set to double by 2030 due to climate change, pollution and increased antibiotic use.

Why does hay fever cause incontinence?

It’s not the hay fever itself, but the stress sneezing puts on a weakened pelvic floor that is the culprit. The downward abdominal pressure that a sneeze induces can also force urine out of your bladder if your pelvic floor muscle isn’t strong enough to hold it in.

That’s why some women automatically cross their legs and squeeze their thighs and buttocks when they feel a sneeze coming - not always with great success.

An inability to hold urine in under pressure is called stress incontinence

Can you do anything about it?

Several things can contribute to the weakening of a pelvic floor muscle, such as pregnancy, childbirth, being overweight, persistent constipation and having a chronic cough (often related to smoking).Regardless of the cause, the good news is that you can improve its strength. Simple pelvic floor exercises can be performed daily and, as the muscle strengthens, so too will your ability to ‘hold on’.You can find all the details, including instructional videos, in the Exercise Zone on the TENA website.

 Taking your hay fever medication will also help control the sneezing and in turn, the leaks. You should also make lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking, losing weight and exercising if you believe these have added to the problem. Adopting good bladder habits is also recommended.

What are ‘Good bladder habits’?

Here’s what you should be aiming for:

Drink plenty of water

  • 1.5 – 2 litres (6 to 8 cups) across the day to ensure constant hydration
  • Limit fizzy drinks (especially those with artificial sweeteners), caffeine and alcohol which can all irritate the bladder

Eat well

  • A healthy diet, high in fibre and low in sugar will help avoid constipation which in turn, prevents the straining that can contribute to a weakened pelvic floor muscle and reduced control
  • Maintain a healthy body weight (BMI) as excess body weight puts additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscle

Exercise

  • There is no downside to physical activity; it helps keep weight off, the bowel regular and the endorphins (feel-good hormones) flowing
  • As mentioned, the pelvic floor muscle should also be exercised regularly for good bladder control

Good toilet habits

  • Urinate only when the bladder is full
  • Open bowels when the urge is felt – don’t keep putting it off as it can lead to constipation

How can I manage in the meantime?

While you’re getting your pelvic floor back into shape, you might appreciate the security and comfort of a purpose-made product to manage any unexpected leaks.

For hay fever, a TENA Liner might be sufficient to see you through the sneezing season. This article, How Period Pads and Incontinence Pads are Different explains why incontinence products are a better choice to manage a weak bladder. In summary, all TENA products are specifically designed to handle the thinner, faster flow of a weak bladder, locking urine away quickly to keep you dry and prevent odours from developing.

 Try them for yourself by taking advantage of our Product Finder Tool, and Free Samples to find the product that’s just right for you.

 

Sources:

Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.