For most adults they remain dry at night and diaper free from time they are toddlers until they end up in a nursing home. However, there are times when even adults have problems with bedwetting.
When you think of bed wetting, you usually think of children and toilet training, but adults can have bedwetting too. Bedwetting can be categorized into two general types, primary and secondary bedwetting. Primary bedwetting means that the person was never successfully toilet trained and wet the bed for as long as he or she can remember. Secondary bedwetting means that the person was successfully toilet trained and confidently dry at night for a period of time, but subsequently developed bedwetting.
The onset of bedwetting in adults is most often the result of a more serious underlying problem than when it occurs in children. This means that if a man or women develops bedwetting, it demands prompt evaluation and treatment.
Causes of Bedwetting in Adults
In women, it’s probably a previously undiagnosed neurologic condition. After urethral obstruction, neurologic conditions are the second most common cause in men. Neurologic conditions can cause bedwetting by one of two mechanisms. Firstly, the bladder may cease to work at all and there is a large amount of residual urine in the bladder, which simply spills over at night – this is called overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is most commonly seen with ruptured discs and spinal cord tumors. It is also seen after operations for cancer of the female cervix and uterus and after surgery for rectal cancer. Secondly, there may be involuntary bladder contractions which result in incontinence. This is most often seen with such conditions as multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular accident, Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative neurologic diseases.
Patients who present with bedwetting need an evaluation consisting of history, a physical exam, a urinalysis, and testing of the bladder and the muscles (sphincter) that are responsible for holding the urine inside the body.
Bottom Line: Many times bedwetting can be treated with medications. Nearly everyone with the problem can be helped and significantly improved after a thorough evaluation has been conducted and the cause of the problem has been identified.