The medical term for wetting the bed at night is nocturnal enuresis. The condition is more common in adults than most people realise. About one person in every hundred, mainly men are affected with over 100,000 teenagers suffering from the condition. It can be embarrassing and many people try to hide it from those around them, terrified of the ridicule and shame it can bring.
So why does it happen?
There are a number of reasons. The sufferer may not have the necessary muscle and nerve control which stops most of us emptying our bladder when it is not full. In teenagers, this is often the case and doctors say that it could be due to the bladder not having learnt how to do that yet- therefore the problem could rectify itself with time.
Another reason is that the bladder may well be over-producing urine at night. There could be an underlying hormonal imbalance. The hormone ADH is responsible for letting your body know that it should decrease its urine production while sleeping, allowing you to hold this smaller amount of urine until the morning. If your body does not make enough ADH, your bladder may not be able to hold the larger amount of urine being stored. If you are a teenager, this could be because the mechanisms that reduce urine production when the body is sleeping, again, might not have not developed properly yet and so this could be rectified naturally as your body continues to form.
For most adult sufferers, the problem is often linked with Alcohol, coffee or the diuretic medicines used to treat high blood pressure and certain heart problems which encourage the kidney to make urine. Doctors will advise never to take a diuretic at bedtime as this will almost definitely lead to you needing to have a wee during the night. Remember Alcohol and coffee have diuretic effects so always avoid drinking them before bedtime, especially if you also have poor bladder control.
Other causes are stress and anxiety, the expansion of the prostate gland, neurological problems and sleep apnoea.
If you suffer from this condition and would like some private and confidential advice, contact the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, a UK not-for-profit organisation on their free confidential helpline staffed by specialist continence nurses and physiotherapists during office hours Monday to Friday on 0845 345 0165.www.bladderandbowelfoundation.org
photo credit: MD Health