Causes Of Adult Bedwetting And How To Manage It

Causes Of Adult Bedwetting And How To Manage It

Causes Of Adult Bedwetting And How To Manage It

A Guest Blog By Christine Pruneau BSN, RAC-CT

Enuresis, or bed-wetting, is commonly associated with children but night time incontinence also affects adults, both young and old. While this can be an embarrassing condition, it is one that can be treated. In many cases, adult bedwetting can be a symptom of another condition, so the first step is determining the root cause. From there, finding ways to manage nighttime leaks can help make you more comfortable as you undergo appropriate treatment.

There are many potential causes of bed-wetting in adults, both young and old:

Causes in younger adults:

  • Diabetes – new or undiagnosed
  • Medication side effects
  • Sleep apnea, or not awakening to the sensation of a full bladder
  • Manufacturing large amount of urine at night
  • Underdeveloped bladder
  • Urinary tract infection or kidney/bladder stones
  • Chronic constipation
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles (mostly females)
  • Neurological disorder or injury

In older adults, causes might also include:

  • Bladder cancer or tumor
  • Prostate cancer or enlargement
  • Overactive bladder
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Dementia

If you are experiencing adult bedwetting, you should speak with a doctor, who will usually start by performing a complete physical examination that includes lab analysis of urine and blood.  A referral to a specialist might be needed where additional tests would be ordered such as an abdominal ultrasound, neurological exam and other urological procedures.

Treatment of bedwetting in adults centers on the root cause.  Many times the incontinence is reversible once the underlying cause is identified.  Determining the origin is often the biggest challenge but definitely worth pursuing.  Until there is a diagnosis and treatment regimen, it is important to keep yourself dry and comfortable during the night.  

There are several options for managing bedwetting: 

Absorbent products. 

Adult protective underwear works wonders in protecting skin, bedding and clothing from urine when the need is moderate. For the best performance of these products, make sure they are the correct size and worn comfortably snug. Protective underwear or briefs are comfortable to wear and are available at drug stores, medical equipment providers and online retailers. In addition, protective bedding, such as waterproof pads and mattress covers can help make cleanup easy in the event there is overnight leakage.

Kegel exercises. 

Pelvic floor strengthening has proven to help adults of all ages with urge incontinence and bedwetting.  A stronger pelvic floor could reduce the number of bedwetting episodes and allow a person to get to the bathroom in time to void.  A physical therapist trained in incontinence care can be very helpful with these exercises.

Here are some other ideas, but patients should speak to their doctor before trying:

Set an alarm to awaken during the night to toilet.  

If the patient is wet before the time of the alarm, set the alarm to an earlier time until finding the ideal hour of the night to toilet.

Watch fluid intake. 

Limiting after-dinner fluids will likely reduce urine production at night.  But PLEASE NOTE: if someone is very physically active into the evening hours, or could become dehydrated for any reason, this would not be recommended.

Prescription Drugs. 

Medications to control incontinence is directed at treating the underlying cause.  In cases where there is urge incontinence, some medications may help to relax the detrusor muscle contractions of the bladder.  This type of incontinence is more common in older adults, but can certainly effect younger and middle-age adults as well.  For those suffering from a lack of vasopressin (a chemical that keeps the body from eliminating too much fluid), Desmopressin is a drug that replaces vasopressin in the body.  This is often associated with diabetes insipidus, brain tumor or head injury.  Careful assessment by a specialist would be in order in this case.

Night time incontinence may differ with younger and older adults but can be treated and managed in most cases. Perseverance and motivation on the part of both patients and providers are key to managing nighttime incontinence.  Know that adult bedwetting is not your fault, and, while it should not be considered normal, it does occur in many people. The good news is that adult bedwetting is something that can be managed with the right tools, and speaking with a physician can help you find the underlying cause and proper treatment.

Christine Pruneau RN, BSN, RAC-CT has 25 years of experience in clinical education for a long term care and home health. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of continence management and has a special interest in restorative health in both adults and children.  Christine is the Clinical Director for Home Care Division at First Quality Healthcare.

Think Bedwetting Is A Children's Issue? Think Again. Bedwetting In Adults Is More Common Than You Realize.

Bedwetting In adults is very prevalent

We’ve been talking about adult bedwetting this month, a condition that affects over 5,000,000 people in the United States.  For those who don’t deal with this situation nightly, it may seem not seem to be a big deal, but for the millions that pray every night to wake up dry, it can be a source of constant worry, frustration, and embarrassment.  

NAFC recently conducted an online survey in an effort to better understand the types of things adults who struggle with bedwetting go through. In just one month, we received a total of over 600 responses from both patients and caregivers detailing the specifics of their bedwetting, what they do to manage it, and the extent to which the condition affects them.  

What we heard was very surprising.

The age range of those experiencing bedwetting varied greatly, but surprisingly, the majority of respondents were neither very young or old – falling within the ages of 18-44.   And while 1/3 had only been suffering for a few months, over half of our respondents had been dealing with bedwetting for 2 years or more.  

And yet, even though many struggle with this condition for years, over 60% had never talked to their doctor about the problem, and 71% have not been diagnosed with an incontinence condition.

However, the lack of diagnosis does not mean that this condition does not bother them.  Most people who visited NAFC.org came because bedwetting was affecting their quality of life, and their personal relationships.  They are frustrated, and are looking for treatments to their bedwetting.  And, when asked what the biggest challenge is, “Embarrassment” topped the list, which explains why many likely do not seek treatment from a professional.  In fact, embarrassment is such a big factor with adult bedwetting, that it prevents not only lifestyle – like visiting or hanging out with friends, and productivity at work - but in several cases, it even prevents people from  making major life decisions, like getting married, because they are too afraid of someone else finding out about their condition.

For Caregivers, keeping things clean and getting their loved one to talk about their bedwetting problem was the biggest challenge.  Many people who wet the bed do not want to address the issue – again, because they are embarrassed, and are afraid of how their loved one will view them.

Finding the best products to deal with leaks is your best defense against bedwetting. There are many online retailers that can help you with this. The benefits of using an online supplier are many: you can order everything from the comfort of your own home, your packages arrive discreetly at your door, and best of all, you can typically consult with a representative on the phone who can walk you through a series of questions to learn more about your specific needs and suggest a product that will work best for you. Those who have had trouble finding a product that fits and works well with their lifestyle will realize what an amazing benefit this is.

Learn more about online retailers here!