Many think of bedwetting, also called nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis, as something you grow out of. However, it's an issue that people of all ages can experience. In fact, the Canadian Continence Foundation estimates that 3.3 million adult Canadians endure transient or chronic urinary incontinence.
While embarrassing, it is no fault of your own. This uncomfortable occurrence can often be due to an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, genetics, medication, and other more common issues. Here’s what you need to know about incontinence care.
What Causes Nocturnal Enuresis (Bed-Wetting)?
Bladder control problems are relatively normal, especially among older adults. While they usually don't cause significant health problems, nighttime incontinence can be uncomfortable and, without proper treatment and quality incontinence products, they can diminish one's dignity and confidence. Below are the most common culprits of adult bedwetting.
Urinary Tract Blockages Or Infections
Most common in women, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause incontinence. If you are prone to UTIs, it is more likely for you to experience incontinence. Signs and symptoms may include frequent urination, discolored urine, and pain during urination despite the amount of urine you expel. Speak with your doctor, as they may be able to prescribe oral medications to relieve symptoms.
An obstruction such as kidney stones, urinary tract stones or bladder stones can also make voiding difficult, as the pressure from the stone can cause the muscles in the bladder to contract. While smaller stones typically will pass on their own, a procedure is needed to remove larger stones or break them down. Once the blockages are removed, you should have greater urinary control and experience less bedwetting.
The antidiuretic hormone (ADH) signals your kidneys to slow down urine production. This hormone is why you do not need to urinate while you're asleep. However, some do not produce enough ADH, or their bodies do not adequately respond to it. A combination of problems such as waking, sleeping, and daytime bladder issues coupled with ADH can lead to bedwetting. Luckily, you can take a simple test under the care of your doctor to measure the level of ADH in your blood to address the problem.
Despite what you think, frequent trips to the bathroom do not equate to a smaller bladder. Those who have a "small bladder" simply means that they feel the need to urinate more frequently due to their functional bladder capacity. Bladder training helps your body anticipate regular voiding by holding urine for longer periods through strengthening your bladder muscles. Those with an overactive bladder may also want to set an alarm throughout the night to urinate.
When neurological disorders or conditions affect the bladder, it is classified as a neurogenic bladder. Depending on the nerves involved and the nature of the damage, the bladder becomes either overactive or underactive.
Certain medications can also cause incontinence. Side effects from hypnotics, insomnia and some psychiatric medications can increase your risk. Talk to your doctor about your side effects, and never go off your medication without speaking to a licensed practitioner.
How To Manage Nighttime Incontinence
While there are many culprits behind nighttime incontinence, many management techniques can make all the difference when the goal is waking up dry.
- Watch your fluid intake: Try to restrict your fluid intake in the afternoon and evening before bed.
- Wake at night: Set alarms once or twice throughout the night to get up to go to the washroom.
- Make urinating a part of your routine: During the day, set a washroom schedule, and be sure to urinate before bed.
- Cut down on bladder irritants: Cut down on drinks that include caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. These ingredients can often lead to an irritated bladder, which can cause frequent urination.
MIP Cares’ incontinence pads offer excellent absorbency and bed linen protection, and are designed to be comfortable for the user and protect their skin.
- Fusion® Bed Pad: Fusion is the first bed pad ever developed with no surface quilting. This incontinence pad is enhanced for comfort, as it remains smooth and flat, reducing the risk of pressure points.
- Whootex® Bed Pad: The Whootex Bed Pad's surface layer provides a soft feel and wicks moisture away from the skin for all-night comfort.
- Aurorra Chair Pad: The comfortable Aurorra chair pad is constructed with an impenetrable barrier that prevents unwanted stains and damage from incontinence, keeping chair surfaces clean and dry.
Your doctor can prescribe various medications for urinary incontinence. When attempting to treat severe bladder overactivity, the involvement of surgery is limited and should only be considered when all other less invasive treatment options are unsuccessful.