For young children, bedwetting can be expected from time to time. Accidents do happen, after all. When bedwetting happens to adults, it could be a sign of trouble. Regardless of how old someone is, removing the stigma of bedwetting and getting down to the cause is important.
Bedwetting, or nocturnal (sleep) enuresis, can happen to children between the ages of 3 to 5 – when they should be able to sleep through the night without issue. There are roughly five million children in the United States who wet their beds. It happens more often among younger children (mostly boys) — about 30 percent of children age 7 and under and about 5 percent of 10-year-old children.
Research suggests bedwetting occurs in 1 to 2 percent of adults. However, the number may be higher. Some adults are likely embarrassed or unwilling to talk with their doctor about the problem. Persistent and frequent bedwetting by adults should definitely be checked by a doctor.
Bedwetting from Children
Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night, and can be very stressful. Children can feel embarrassed and guilty about wetting the bed and anxious about spending the night at a friend's house or at camp. Parents often feel helpless to stop it.
Bedwetting usually goes away on its own, but might last for a while. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for your child, so it's important to provide emotional support until it stops.
Here are a few things that might be causing your child to wet the bed:
- Your child is a deep sleeper and does not awaken to the signal of a full bladder.
- Your child has not yet learned how to hold and empty urine well. (Communication between the brain and bladder might take time to develop.)
- Your child's body makes too much urine at night.
- Your child has a minor illness, is overly tired, or is responding to changes or stresses going on at home.
- There is a family history of bedwetting. Most children who wet the bed have at least one parent who had the same problem as a child.
- Your child's bladder is small or not developed enough to hold urine for a full night.
There is also the possibility that your child might have an underlying medical problem. If bedwetting continues to be a problem once they’re school-age, you might want to talk with your child’s pediatrician. Remember, do not blame your child. It’s not their fault. Instead, be sensitive to your child’s feelings and be open and honest with them.
Bedwetting from Adults
Bedwetting doesn’t just happen to children. Although it’s usually something that passes with a child, wetting the bed as an adult can be a sign that there is something physically wrong. You don’t really have to be overly concerned about bedwetting if it’s only happened once or twice, but more than that, you should reach out to your doctor.
Here are a few of causes of adult bedwetting:
- Hormonal issues: Your body produces an antidiuretic hormone at night called ADH, which slows the kidney's production of urine while you sleep. With bedwetting, your body might not be producing enough ADH.
- Cancer: Tumors in your bladder or prostate could cause a blockage of your urinary tract, leading to the inability to hold urine, especially at night.
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled blood sugars can lead to your kidneys producing more urine, which can cause bedwetting.
- Sleep apnea: A study found that 7 percent of people with sleep apnea experience bedwetting. Bedwetting might become more frequent as sleep apnea
- Medication: Some prescription medications – including insomnia medications such as clozapine and risperidone – come with bedwetting as a side effect. If you’ve started having this issue and you’ve just started taking a new medication, be sure to consult your doctor.
Protect Your Mattress from Bedwetting
Regardless of whether nighttime accidents are happening to you or your child, you should have something in place to protect your mattress. You can clean urine from a mattress, but it’s easier – and a lot better in the long run – to have a mattress protector.