Bedwetting is most commonly associated with
children, writes Natalie Valios. But nocturnal enuresis, as it is
medically termed, affects as many as one in 100 adults in the UK.
Adult enuretics often suffer in silence because they are
embarrassed about the condition and do not know where to turn for
help and advice.
Opinions are divided as to the cause. One
argument is that it is linked to a sleep disorder and that rather
than bedwetting being inherited, it is the sleep disorder that is
The other argument is that adults who wet the
bed at night produce urine at a constant rate during the day and
night, unlike most people who produce more urine during the day.
Others may have an overactive or unstable bladder which means they
pass urine frequently. Occasionally a urine infection or other
bladder problems may cause bedwetting. Stress or anxiety can also
be a contributing factor. As well as coping with embarrassment,
enuretics have to deal with wet laundry, anxiety about starting
relationships, and going away for the night. There are several
treatments they can try. A GP might prescribe desmopressin which
works by reducing the quantity of urine produced overnight.
Tolterodine or oxybutynin might be prescribed to relax the bladder,
allowing it to hold more urine. Alarms which buzz or vibrate can be
used to wake an enuretic up when they start to wet the bed. The
idea behind these is that a person’s body learns to hold the urine
or to wake up.
For more information contact the Continence
Foundation on 020 7404 6875 or www.continence-foundation.org.uk
or call the helpline on 0845 3450165.