The all-too-familiar scene of pee-soaked pyjamas, and a child sheepishly staring at his not-so-happy parent(s), is proof beyond doubt, he wet the bed. While this can be tolerated in children between the ages of 2 to 6, it is likely to be viewed problematic, as the child grows older. Hence, the need to find out What Condition Causes Bedwetting.
In this article, I will provide you with a detailed insight into What Conditions Causes Bedwetting, exploring several key causes and how bedwetting can affect children and adults alike.
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What Condition Causes Bedwetting
Common conditions causing bedwetting include; Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), unusual pausing or breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), overactive bladder muscles, a small bladder size, hormonal imbalance, difficulty perceiving a full bladder, diabetes, emotional problems resulting in anxiety, stress or fear.
Bedwetting, also called Nocturnal Enuresis or involuntary urination, is simply the inability to control the bladder at nighttime during sleep, resulting in the release of pee. This nighttime incontinence is a very common experience not only among growing children who are yet to master the art of controlling their bladders but adults also.
Statistics show that children between ages 2 to 6 are twice more likely to experience nighttime incontinence than older children because at this stage, though the child might be well potty trained, the body (including the urinary system) is still developing. Consequently, the child’s bladder, small in size is unable to hold pee at a certain capacity, causing the child to wet the bed -making it an involuntary action.
However, as the child matures the struggle to stay dry reduces. This is the body’s response to the growth process taking shape within the body. Where bedwetting becomes an alarming concern in growing children, will be the child’s inability at age 7 to stay dry for consecutive nights over a long period – typically 6 months and above (primary bedwetting).
Likely conditions that cause bedwetting in children
- Abnormalities during birth; while some children wet the bed as a normal cycle of growth, others are born with misaligned or misplaced ureters. This is a condition where the tubes responsible for connecting the kidney to the bladder are positioned wrongly either within the bladder or outside the bladder.
- Overactive bladder; whilst this is not an infection or illness, a child with an overactive bladder (OAB) will have frequent urges to pee. When the bladder easily spasms or contracts, the result will be an uncontrollable need to urinate.
- Neural tube disorder; a child who suffers a neurological defect such as spina bifida, will experience nerve dysfunction to the bladder resulting in bedwetting.
- Genetics; if it is confirmed that either or both parents had a history of bedwetting as children, there is a 30%-70% probability that their child would also wet the bed.
- Small bladder; just like every other part a child is born with, children have small bladders giving them the capacity to hold only a small amount of urine.
- Sleeping disorders; sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea (a condition where breathing is obstructed during sleep – starts and stops abruptly) or oversleeping can cause bedwetting.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI); occurs when the urinary system (kidney, bladder and ureter) or urinary tract is infected with bacteria.
- Drinking fluids excessively before bedtime; when children drink too many fluids just before going to bed, they have a higher chance of bedwetting as opposed to staying dry all night.
- Hormonal Imbalance; Anti-diuretic hormones (ADH) are responsible for regulating both the level of urine that the body makes and blood pressure. A deficit in the production of ADH will lead to increased production of urine at nighttime.
- Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); According to an article on Medica News, children with ADHD have a higher risk of bedwetting as opposed to children without ADHD.
Likely conditions that cause bedwetting in adults
- Psychological and emotional trauma; stress, anxiety, fear, depression or any of its related accomplices can induce nocturnal enuresis. A disruption to relatively stable routines or emotional breakdowns induced by the loss of a loved one, source of financial security and other such events, can breed the condition for bedwetting in adults.
- Prostrate gland enlargement; men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), may experience difficulty in peeing. An enlarged prostate squeezes the urethra. Overtime, as the bladder becomes sensitive to stored urine, it may develop abnormal spams (overactive bladder) resulting in involuntary leaks and bedwetting.
- Medical conditions; medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney or bladder abnormalities, sickle cell, neurological disorders can induce nocturnal enuresis.
- Genetics; the probability of children whose parents have a history of bedwetting, can transition with nighttime incontinence into adulthood is high.
- Hormonal imbalance; just like in children, a deficient production of anti-diuretic hormones that help to reduce urine production at night, can be a cause of bedwetting in adults.
- Small Functional Bladder Capacity; in adults, this does not refer to the physical size of the bladder being small or suggest a deformity in growth. It is instead, an abnormal functional capacity when the bladder is not able to hold large amounts of urine. This defect will cause a frequent urge to pee and sometimes involuntary leaks at nighttime.
Nocturnal enuresis is not as aloof as it may sound in adulthood. It is suggested that 1% – 2% of adults experience bedwetting.
Understanding that nocturnal enuresis is an involuntary action, and may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition (this is not always the case), will reduce shame and provide a reason to seek the help of a doctor.
How bedwetting can affect children and adults
Be it a child or an adult, nobody certainly wants to wake up soaked in pee. Bedwetting can affect children and adults in the following ways;
- It leaves the child or adult with feelings of embarrassment and shyness.
- It can dampen self-esteem (lack of confidence, withdrawal from people and events)
- It can cause rashes around genitals and thighs.
- Prolonged bedwetting (primary bedwetting) can leave behind a strong stench traceable to the individual.
Is there a medical reason for bedwetting
Nocturnal Enuresis (bedwetting) can sometimes be the symptom of an underlying medical condition such as urinary tract infection (UTI), neurological disorders, diabetes, sickle cell disease, prostrate gland enlargement, sleep disorders (sleep apnea – when the tonsils or adenoids are either inflamed or enlarged), or hormonal imbalance.
Bedwetting as a symptom of an underlying medical condition is referred to as secondary bedwetting.
12 simple ways to prevent bedwetting in children and adults
- Encourage the use of bathrooms just before bedtime.
- Use protective coverings (plastic lining sheets) for mattresses.
- Rewarding children for staying dry will boost their determination and confidence to overcome bedwetting.
- Avoid drinking too much fluids especially drinks containing caffeine, chocolate, artificial sweeteners or cold liquids during the day and before bed.
- Always ensure bathrooms or toilets can be accessed easily and quickly when it is needed.
- Introduce bladder training to children. This typically involves scheduling bathroom breaks at specific times during the day and taking the child to pee at most twice between 2-3 hours when sleeping.
- Never underestimate the power of positive affirmations. Be encouraging when dealing with bedwetting, this will build trust, patience and the right mindset to overcoming the struggle. Negative comments and harsh punishments will only foster guilt and low-self esteem.
- Stay alert to monitor bowel movements. Constipation when detected early and treated, can reduce bedwetting.
- Limit screen time hours before bedtime.
- Try as much as possible to create a comfortable and safe space for sleep at night. This will reduce discomfort and disruptions.
- Setting up a bedwetting alarm can reduce nighttime incontinence. Bedwetting alarms are specially designed alarms that can detect the onset of urine.
- Visit a doctor if there is pain during urination, blood stains, urine coloration or often experiences of constipation alongside bedwetting.
Though there are medications available for treating bedwetting, it is not a guaranteed means to totally staying dry at night. Synthetic hormones such as Desmopressin (DDAVP), slows the production of urine during sleep at nighttime. However, when it is stopped, bedwetting often continues and side effects may follow.
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