Bed Wetting

Causes of Bed Wetting

Nocturnal enuresis, more commonly known as bed wetting, should only be a concern if it occurs in patients over the ages of 5 and 6, when control over the bladder should be fully developed. Enuresis is a very common condition that affects millions of patients in the United States—mostly children but some adults. It means that the affected individual is urinating at night two times or more every month because he or she cannot control the bladder. Most of the time, the sleep disorder condition goes away naturally as the individual learns to manage his or her urinary urges.

There are generally two types of enuresis: primary enuresis and secondary enuresis. Primary enuresis describes children who wet the bed every night because their bodies produce more urine than usual while they sleep and their brains have not yet developed the ability to sense when the bladder is full. Ultimately, the bed wetting occurs as a result of slower physical development, and there is little that parents and children can do to prevent it. Secondary enuresis, which describes children who start wetting the bed again after at least 6 months of remaining dry (being completely toilet trained), may have an underlying physical or emotional condition. A relapse of urinary incontinence such as this can also be caused by recent changes in an individual’s sleep patterns.

Bed Wetting Solutions

Oftentimes, a personal journal can be useful in recording a person’s urinary routine, including fluid intake and episodes of wetting the bed. A physical examination administered by a sleep doctor will be able to narrow down the causes of enuresis and rule out any physical complications that may be causing the individual to wet the bed—especially if the patient is an adult bed wetter and may have a medical condition with urinary incontinence as a symptom, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), diabetes or some bladder disease. To make a diagnosis, the doctor will probably take urine samples and test them in a lab. Enuresis that persists without probable cause may even be analyzed with x-ray tests of the kidneys, bladder and other organs if a doctor deems it necessary to detect a more serious underlying cause.

Children that suffer from bed wetting should be assured that it is a very common condition among people of all ages, as stress or embarrassment about their own bed wetting habits may worsen symptoms. Physical exercises such as practicing a routine urination schedule, trying not to hold in urine for too long, drinking less fluid in the evening and remembering to urinate every night before bed may help the child’s body to develop bladder control as well. These at-home remedies for enuresis in children should definitely be considered before more intervening treatment.

However, there are more potent treatment options for young and adult patients with enuresis. One common one is a “bedwetting alarm,” available over the counter in most pharmacies. Essentially, a bedwetting alarm is a training device that awakens the enuresis patient whenever he or she starts to urinate while sleeping, so that he or she can do go the bathroom. Although training may take several months, the bedwetting alarm technique is generally quite successful and usage can be stopped once the patient is able to stay dry for 3 or more weeks. Medication is also available to treat short-term and long-term bedwetting, although periodically stopping medication to see if the condition has been cured naturally is usually recommended. Treatment of enuresis with antidepressants is generally not practiced because the side effects usually outweigh the benefits.

Consult a sleep professional if you are an adult or have a child who wets the bed and at-home bed wetting solutions have not worked. Complications of enuresis are very rare, but leaving the condition unmonitored can lead to health problems if an underlying cause remains undetected and worsens.