Introduction: Urinary stress incontinence affects 10% to 30% of the female population and may have a major impact on psychosocial health. In interstitial lung disease, chronic cough may lead to development of urinary incontinence, but the prevalence and impact of this symptom are unknown.
Objectives: To determine the rate and impact of urinary stress incontinence among women with chronic cough due to interstitial lung disease.
Methods: 28 female patients with chronic cough secondary to interstitial lung disease and 15 controls were evaluated by questionnaires to determine the prevalence of cough-related urinary incontinence, its severity, and its impact on quality of life.
Results: Cough-related urinary incontinence was present in 14/28 patients with interstitial lung disease and chronic cough (50%), but in only 1/15 controls (7%, p=0.005). On a 5-points quality of life scale, the median impact of urinary incontinence was 3 (minimum=1, maximal=5), and the median impact of chronic cough was 3.5. The majority of patients (64%) believed that incontinence was a natural phenomenon due to ageing, all were ashamed by this symptom and 79% were unable to mention it to their caring physician. Only one physician had previously addressed this issue.
Conclusion: Cough-related urinary incontinence is common in patients with interstitial lung disease and is largely overlooked. It may significantly alter quality of life. A systematic questioning by the physician would allow to promptly refer these patients for appropriate therapeutic interventions, such as perineal training.