Enuresis, or bedwetting as it is commonly known, is primarily a type of urinary incontinence occurring in young children. However, in rare cases Secondary Adult Onset Enuresis (Nocturnal Enuresis) can appear in adults. Nocturnal Enuresis can occur after a particularly stressful episode, a urinary tract infection, as a side effect of medication or as a result of a medical condition including cancer. Other factors include an overly active bladder, a smaller than usual bladder, and excessive alcohol.
Most people outgrow Enuresis in childhood but there are rare cases where some people continue to wet the bed their whole lives. Known as Persistent Primary Nocturnal Enuresis, it can affect between 2 - 3% of adults over 18 years of age. For others, developing Nocturnal Enuresis later in their adult life is a cause of great concern, especially when nocturnal bedwetting begins after many years.
Nocturnal Enuresis can affect your lifestyle by preventing you from enjoying a night away from home, taking holidays or business trips and even from starting a new relationship. On top of that, practical problems like the constant washing and drying of sheets and the cost of replacing bed linen only add to the frustration and exhaustion from a bad night’s sleep.
The fact is, many people wet the bed at night, although most never seek help because they are too embarrassed. However, with the right advice and support, Nocturnal Enuresis can be improved and sometimes even cured.
The simple question everyone with Nocturnal Enuresis asks is “why don't I wake up when I need to go to the toilet?” Unfortunately, even though there are many causes, there is no clear answer.
Ordinarily, you produce less urine when you sleep. Some people produce larger amounts of urine during the night, which explains why the bladder needs emptying.
Other suggested causes include:
It’s also important to remember that Nocturnal Enuresis in adult life could be the result of a more serious underlying problem. If you think this is the case, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Perhaps the first sensible thing to do is to talk to your family doctor. Don’t worry about feeling too embarrassed to talk about bedwetting. They’ve heard it all before and you’ll find that they will be able to put your mind at ease and plan a few strategies to help you combat Nocturnal Enuresis
A good idea before chatting with your doctor is to keep a diary for about a week before your appointment showing how often you pass urine, how much you drink and episodes of Nocturnal Enuresis.
Be prepared to give a sample of your urine so it can be tested for infection. Your doctor may even recommend that you attend the hospital outpatient department for a urodynamic study (bladder test).
Some other strategies they may discuss with you include:
Other helpful tips that may reduce the incidence of Nocturnal Enuresis include: