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It had never occurred to Abigail that she would wet her bed. She is 26 after all! But then, on December 12, she startled herself.

“I woke up when I was peeing. I thought it was just a little because I’d felt only a little urine trickle out but then I touched my pyjamas, and then my mattress and Oh my God, they were so wet. I was so embarrassed,” Abigail recounts.

She laughs when telling her story because she doesn’t think she is going to turn into a perennial bed-wetter. “I won’t drink before bed and of course, I’ll make sure I pee before bed,” she says and laughs.

Because hers was a lone episode, Abigail can afford to laugh. However, there are adults (about 1%), who cannot afford to laugh about bedwetting because they never outgrew it. Such people are said to suffer primary enuresis, described by www.incontinecehelp.dryforlife.co.uk, as bedwetting that begins in childhood and never resolves or if it does, it isn’t for more than six months.

Secondary enuresis, on the other hand, occurs when bedwetting resolves for more than six months but then reoccurs. It is difficult to say how many adults suffer secondary enuresis, but it is assumed that this number is higher than that of adults that suffer primary enuresis.

Bedwetting is embarrassing even in children as young as three. It is, therefore, important to look at its causes so that where they can be isolated, it is alleviated. Where it can’t, individuals will know that it isn’t through any fault of theirs that they wet their beds.

What causes enuresis?

According to www.incontinencehelp.dryforlife.co.ukm, primary enuresis may be as a result of: insufficient production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) which results in the body producing too much urine hence bedwetting (children have small pituitary glands; so, they produce insufficient ADH and so they wet their beds), genetic predisposition and smaller-than-normal bladders.

Secondary enuresis, on the other hand, may occur, according to Dr Vincent Karuhanga and www.ehow.com, because of:

  • Disease- diabetes (this may prevent the body from making sufficient amounts of ADH), bladder and prostate cancer, anxiety and stress (in rare cases), sleep apnea (this is obstructed sleep and it may make people oversleep so they don’t wake up when they need to urinate), neurological disorders and urinary tract and prostate infections.
  • Alcohol intake –this makes some people have poor judgment. It also results in increased urine production.
  • Caffeine may also make people wet their beds.
  • Incontinence- inability to hold in urine-or weakened muscles may result in urine leaking while one is sleeping
  • An overactive bladder which spasms and results in urinating even when the bladder has little urine
  • Medicines, say those that treat epilepsy, schizophrenia and those that induce deep sleep
  • Deep sleep which doesn’t enable one to wake up and urinate
  • Urinary tract stones

Because secondary enuresis may be as a result of a disease, it is important to have it investigated by a doctor. Nocturnal enuresis in adults may result in poor quality of life for those suffering from it.

Measures that include bladder training exercises, arranging sleep patterns so that one wakes when they need to urinate and avoiding situations that put one at risk of bed wetting may be taken so that one lives comfortably.

  • Bladder training exercises include putting the bladder under strain, drinking a lot of water, holding in urine so the bladder expands
  • Arranging sleep patterns include setting an alarm so that one can urinate every 3-4 hours. This is especially useful for deep sleepers.
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed.

Also medicines for treatment of enuresis are available. Karuhanga says that men that suffer enuresis should remain uncircumcised so that they can tie up the foreskin when going to bed. Should they feel like urinating, they will feel pain and wake up. Plastic mattress sheets are also an option.

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