Reviewed by: Brindusa Vanta, MD, DHMHS
What Is Best for Adult Incontinence?
Wetting the bed as an adult can be shocking, especially if it happens more than once. However, nighttime incontinence is nothing to be embarrassed about. The National Association for Continence (NAFC) states over 5 million American adults deal with nighttime incontinence. There are many ways of managing incontinence so it doesn’t become a sore spot in your nightly routine. Let’s discuss a few ways of tackling this issue many older women face daily.
What Is Nighttime Incontinence in Adults?
Nighttime incontinence is a condition that causes involuntary urine release during sleep. Urologists use the term adult nocturnal or nocturnal enuresis to refer to bedwetting or nighttime incontinence in adults.
Bedwetting can occur right as you drift off to sleep or while you’re deep asleep. In the case of the latter, you may not notice and stop the urinating action on time, soiling your pajamas and bedding. Incontinence may also wake you up multiple times during the night, affecting the quality of rest you receive.
Symptoms of nighttime incontinence include:
- A sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate that interrupts your sleep
- Urine leaks or dribbles that occur several times during the night
- Involuntary complete bladder release as you sleep
- Inability to stop urine flow even when you wake up from sleep
Causes of Nighttime Incontinence in the Elderly and Adults
Adult nighttime incontinence is a treatable medical condition. The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, the type of incontinence and the underlying cause. Nocturnal enuresis can be caused by various factors and may indicate serious health problems.
Urination is a physiological process initiated when the bladder is full. The antidiuretic hormone (ADH) controls urine production by regulating the amount of water in your body passed out as urine. The amount of ADH is higher at night, helping prevent you from urinating during sleep.
However, conditions associated with a deficiency in ADH such as diabetes insipidus and diabetes melitus make the body produce too much urine. Signs of low levels of ADH include excessive thirst, dehydration, higher than normal sodium levels, and frequent urination.
Damage to the nervous system may lead to impairments in getting the message that tells you that you need to empty your bladder. Consequently, you may only catch the signal once your bladder leaks small amounts of urine or releases all its contents while you sleep.
Neurological conditions may be caused by brain or spine damage due to accidents or trauma. Brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and tumors can also affect the functioning of your nervous system, leading to nighttime incontinence, particularly nighttime incontinence in the elderly.
Conditions Affecting the Urinary Tract
Abnormal functioning of your urinary system can also contribute to nocturnal enuresis. Some people have bladders that can’t hold normal amounts of urine, forcing them to pass urine frequently or accidentally.
An overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition found in over 70% of adults struggling with Dama incontinence. If you have OAB, the muscles of the bladder contract on their own even when your bladder isn’t full. People with wet OAB may be unable to respond to their body’s prompt to urinate while asleep, causing them to wet the bed.
Urinary tract infection, kidney stones, prostate conditions, bladder cancer, and pelvic surgeries can all contribute to the development of an overactive bladder.
Medication and Diet
Adult bedwetting may be a side effect of some medications. Many drugs, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and non steroid noninflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may play a role in the development of incontinence or worsen this condition.
Herbs like ginger, dandelion, and parsley, as well as beverages such as coffee and alcohol have diuretic effects that affect the levels of ADH in your body. Low ADH levels cause greater urine production, increasing the likelihood of bedwetting.
How to Manage Nighttime Incontinence
Nighttime incontinence is an uncomfortable condition. Deep sleepers or people with certain neurological conditions who aren't aware about urine leakage may be forced to lie on a wet mattress for hours. Even if you manage to stop urinating long enough to get to the toilet, having your sleep interrupted by incontinence multiple times a night can make you grumpy, affect your ability to focus on tasks, and even impair your ability to avoid accidents or injuries.
Here are some tips you can use to make nighttime incontinence a less persistent problem in your life:
- Do Kegel workouts: Kegel exercises can prevent or manage nocturnal urinary. Kegels are an easy exercise that strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and involve squeezing and releasing the muscles in the pelvic floor. There are a few techniques that can help women identify the muscles that have to be contracted and relaxed. One is to pretend to tighten the vagina around a tampon. You can perform Kegel exercises anytime throughout the day and reap the benefits as you sleep.
- Avoid drinking before bed: Avoid tea, water, or any other beverages around three hours before bedtime. If you’re particularly thirsty, take small, slow sips of water over a few hours before going to bed.
- Always “go” before bed. Sometimes it’s easy to jump into bed after a long day without going to the bathroom. However, if you have incontinence issues, you won’t always wake up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself appropriately. Urinating before bed can be an effective way to prevent incontinence during sleep.
- Reduce consumption of diuretic beverages: Most people need a few cups of coffee to get through their busy day. However, you should restrict your caffeine intake to mornings or early afternoons. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it is best to avoid it a few hours before bedtime to lower the chances of bedwetting.
- Use the right incontinence products: You should use incontinence products to manage nighttime incontinence caused by various medical conditions. Nexwear incontinence products are very comfortable and highly absorbent, ensuring you get a full night’s sleep without soiling yourself or your beddings. Our absorbency pads and wearable underwear are made with moisture-wicking properties to keep your skin dry through the night. We also use breathable materials that eliminate odor and sweat, ensuring you maintain healthy skin even while dealing with nighttime incontinence.
The Bottom Line
Dealing with adult incontinence isn’t something to be ashamed of. The condition can be caused by factors such as diet, medication, hormonal issues. or neurological conditions. Your doctor can order various tests to identify the cause of incontinence and recommend a treatment. Watching your diet, improving sleep hygiene, and maintaining a healthy weight are some ways you can improve nighttime incontinence.
However, if you can’t change the factors around your incontinence, using Nexwear products can make managing the condition more hygienic, comfortable, and dignifying. We have a range of pads and underwear designed to fit people of all sizes. We also deliver to addresses across the United States. Order your first shipment of Nexwear incontinence pads and underwear today to experience better sleep and better health.