Adult Bedwetting: Coping with Enuresis

woman stretching in bed

Have you been wetting the bed? Are you unsure why? Does it feel embarrassing to talk to anyone about your situation?

If so, you've come to the right place.

Adult bedwetting, otherwise known as nocturnal enuresis, is more common than you may think. It only seems like it's an anomaly because very few adults feel comfortable speaking about it.

Whether you're learning about the condition for yourself or someone you know, you've done the right thing in educating yourself. To learn more about what causes enuresis and how to deal with it, keep reading.

What Causes Adult Bedwetting?

Many people assume that children are the only ones who wet the bed at night, but this isn't true. There are many bodily functions that tie together with enuresis. If these functions aren't properly aligned, this can cause bedwetting in a person of any age.

Below are a few of the most common causes for adult urinary incontinence at night. Understanding what causes enuresis is the first step to accepting and dealing with adult bedwetting.

1. Level of ADH Isn't Regulated Properly at Night

ADH, or antidiuretic hormone, regulates the amount of urine the kidneys produce throughout the day and night. When sleeping, the body produces less of this hormone.

In turn, the body produces less urine.

If the body isn't making enough ADH or the kidneys aren't responding well enough to the amount of the hormone that the body is making, you may produce too much urine at night. This can cause adult bedwetting.

2. Bladder Cannot Hold Enough Urine

If a person has a small bladder, he/she may not be able to hold enough urine at night. This could be an issue that ties into the previous problem previously mentioned.

If the body is producing too much urine at night, it may not be able to hold all of the urine. Alternatively, the body could be producing and regulating ADH correctly, although the bladder can't hold the typical amount of urine produced by the body. 

3. Taking a Medication That Affects the Body's Ability to Hold Urine

Some medications may be affecting the ability to hold urine. Some medications like Clozapine and Risperidone irritate the bladder, while others like Hydrochlorothiazide can increase the production of urine.

Avoiding these kinds of medications before bed may help.

4. Having a Condition That Causes Issues With Storing and Holding Urine

There are plenty of conditions that affect the bladder and its ability to store and hold urine. If you or someone you know is wetting the bed at night, talk to a doctor about whether or not the following conditions may be the cause:

  • Bladder cancer

  • Prostate cancer

  • Seizure disorder

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson's disease

  • A blocked urethra

  • Constipation

  • Diabetes

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Pelvic organ prolapse

  • Structural issues

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Urinary tract stones

  • Urinary tract infection


If your physician has already diagnosed one or more of these conditions, be sure to find out more about controlling the symptoms. 

couple at doctors office

How to Deal With Adult Bedwetting

Accepting and dealing with adult bedwetting can be a long yet simple process. Because of the assumptions that people make about bedwetting, adult enuresis can be a sensitive and embarrassing topic.

But, it shouldn't be.

The truth is that bedwetting at any age is a normal response to something happening in the body. It is not your - or anyone's - fault. However, it IS important to get it under control.

This is why we strongly encourage anyone experiencing enuresis to speak with a doctor or even urologist about it. They are not going to judge you. It is their job to help find the cause and address the symptoms.

Educating yourself about adult bedwetting (like you're doing right now) is one of the most effective ways to remove the stigma. Once the cause of bedwetting is figured out, you can then learn how to control the symptoms and learn to love and appreciate your body again.

Adults who are wetting the bed may have something physically wrong. That's why they should see a physician.

man researching on laptop

How to Treat Adult Enuresis

There are multiple ways to go about treating adult enuresis. The treatment plan your doctor takes will depend on what is causing symptoms in the first place.

Medications may need to be added to regulate ADH or adjusted if they are causing increased urine production. There may be new medical conditions that will be diagnosed and treated. 

In addition to all of these possible medical treatments and solutions, doctors may also ask those managing enuresis to make some personal changes. Here are a few lifestyle changes that may help address wetting the bed at night:

  • Limit fluid intake a couple of hours before going to bed

  • Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol

  • Keep a bladder diary, which records episodes of bedwetting and voiding

  • Use bed pads to protect mattresses

  • Set a nighttime bathroom alarm 

  • Wear absorbent briefs at night to prevent leaks

Taking even these small steps to resolve the issue of bedwetting may make large changes in your quality of life and quality of sleep. If you or someone you know is still feeling embarrassed about the situation (which we hope is not the case), absorbent briefs, underwear and pads can help manage incontinence.

Products for Managing Enuresis

If you or someone you know is dealing with adult bedwetting, NorthShore wants to help make sure products are easily and discreetly available to make the situation as manageable as possible. From pull-ons and adult diapers to washable and disposable bed pads and underpads, NorthShore has a solution.

See our line of Overnight Incontinence Products and get the help needed to manage adult enuresis and live life to the fullest. 

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