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Urinary Incontinence in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Common Co-morbidity or a Typical Adverse Effect?

Salvatore Battaglia, Alida Benfante, Stefania Principe, Laura Basile, Nicola Scichilone
Drugs & Aging 2019 June 15
Urinary incontinence (UI) is defined as a loss of bladder control and is characterized by the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine. Evidence suggests that the prevalence of UI is higher in subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than in age-matched controls in both sexes. UI is classified as stress, urge, and mixed, and has a considerable impact on quality of life. However, the prevalence of UI in individuals with COPD is mostly unexplored in clinical research and often underestimated in clinical practice. Interestingly, although the involuntary leakage of a small amount of urine during coughing (e.g., stress UI) is among the most plausible causes of UI in patients with COPD, its importance has been questioned by some researchers. Moreover, UI as a respiratory drug-related adverse effect is largely overlooked; only a few randomized controlled trials have reported the presence of urinary symptoms, mainly as urinary retention due to anticholinergic agents. In this narrative review, we explored whether, and to what extent, UI occurs in COPD individuals, and what the proposed actions to improve this condition are. We found that the association between UI and COPD is largely unexplored, mostly because UI tends to be attributed to older age. We infer that the prevalence of UI in individuals with chronic respiratory symptoms is often underestimated in clinical practice. The misinterpretation of urinary symptoms as related to the respiratory condition can delay diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The use of simple self-administered questionnaires to assess the presence of UI is encouraged.


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