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What is Adult Bedwetting?

Reasons for Nocturnal Enuresis


Wetting the bed at night might be a hard thing to admit to as an adult. When you get older you think of bed wetting as a childish activity, but that isn’t always so. There are many different reasons for adults to wet the bed at night. Adult Bedwetting, Nocturnal Enuresis, shouldn’t be embarrassing because it is involuntary and definitely not your fault.


To better understand Nocturnal Enuresis, a quick recap of how the urinary tract works might help. It all starts with the kidneys. After your kidneys produce urine, the urine passes through the ureters into the bladder where it is stored. The bladder, supported by pelvic floor muscles, then holds the urine until it needs to be released through the urethra. The urethra is the tube that connects to the bladder and releases the urine outside of the body. When the bladder contracts, the urinary sphincter relaxes. The urinary sphincter is the door in which urine will pass through tot he outside. If you have a physical impediment or a neurological issue, this process can be impaired.


Nocturnal Enuresis is a special case of impaired or affected urinary function. Adult Bedwetting can be caused for a number of different reasons. The first place you and your doctor should look is your history of family health. Apparently adult bedwetting is hereditary. According to the National Association for Continence, if both of your parents were bed wetters, you have a 77% chance of also becoming a bed wetter. And if one parent used to wet the bed as a kid, their child has a 40% chance of becoming a bed wetter. These bedwetting probabilities can then carry on into adulthood.


Nocturnal Enuresis may also be associated with the antidiuretic hormone, also referred to as ADH. ADH’s basic function is to tell the kidneys when to decrease the production of urine. Your body naturally produces more ADH at night to avoid nocturnal enuresis. Clearly this is not the case for everyone.  Those with nocturnal enuresis may not produce enough ADH at night, or the kidneys just don’t respond and continue the same amount of urine production. This means more urine is produced at night. The name for high urine production while sleeping is called nocturnal polyuria. Not only is it related to nocturnal enuresis, but diabetes type I as well. If you are experiencing adult bedwetting because of nocturnal polyuria you should consult a doctor because it may be linked to diabetes.


Another reason why you may experience adult bedwetting is due to a “small” bladder. The size of your bladder doesn’t actually matter though. What really matters is the functional bladder capacity. You could have a very large bladder but a low functional bladder capacity (FBC). If you have low FBC and overactive bladder muscles (detrusor muscles), you may experience adult bedwetting. The National Association for Continence found 70 -80% of nocturnal enuresis patients to have overactive bladder muscles. Certain foods and drinks like alcohol and caffeine can contribute to overactive bladder muscles. There are foods and drinks you can consume to alleviate leakage.

rnCertain medications can also induce nocturnal enuresis. Hypnotics, insomnia medications, and psychiatric medications like  thioridazine, clozapine, and risperidone can increase your risk for bed wetting as an adult. If you are taking medications like these, or other medications and are experiencing nocturnal enuresis you should talk to your doctor. Your medication may be causing you to wet the bed as a side effect.rnrnYour psyche could also be affecting your bedwetting. While anxiety, stress and depression do not physically cause you to wet the bed, they could induce behaviors that encourage bedwetting. Many people who have stressful psychological issues engage in behaviors that may not be good for their health. One being their eating habits. Adult bedwetting could be a result of your anxiety because you may eat a high-salt diet, or drink too much fluid especially right before bed. Salty snacks are especially associated with those who have anxiety. This makes you retain more fluid, so when you go to sleep you are more likely to wet the bed. And with disrupted sleep due to bedwetting comes even more anxiety. Your body needs to shut down and relax at night, and if it does not do that you are more likely to become depressed.rnrnAdult bedwetting could also be an indicator for other health issues. You may not even realize you are experiencing an abnormal health condition, so if you have nocturnal enuresis you should seek a doctor. Health issues that can cause nocturnal enuresis include prostate issues in men or pelvic organ prolapse in women, urinary tract infection, urinary tract stones, neurological disorders, anatomical abnormalities, urinary tract calculi, bladder cancer, or obstructive sleep apnea.rnrnBecause there are a number of different causes, you should seek a doctor as soon as you experience adult bedwetting. Write down all of your symptoms before you go to your appointment. Make note of what time of the night you go, how many times, what you have consumed during the day, how it feels when you urinate etc. All of these aspects are important in diagnosing the reason you are experiencing adult bedwetting.rnrnIn any case adult overnight briefs are always a good way to maintain leakage. You can wear comfortable absorbent underwear and not have to worry about wetting the bed. If you don’t get good sleep because you fear bedwetting, you can experience exhaustion and depression. Sleep is incredibly important for your health, so wearing an adult overnight brief can be very beneficial in alleviating your leakage worries. Talk to your doctor about other treatments for urinary incontinence at night and sleep well!

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