Preventing adult bed wetting


June 28, 2016

Dear Readers,

Tim is a 22-year-old young man who recently found himself wetting his bed at night-time. He is also passing urine more frequently in the daytime. He visited his doctor for the frequency of passing his urine but didn't mention the bed-wetting.

The doctor treated him for a urinary tract infection and the problem slowed for a while but now, it's back and Tim is asking Check Up what his problem could be and how to treat it.

Occasionally, he would overnight with his friends over the weekend in the country, but he does not feel comfortable doing this at present.

For adults, bed-wetting can be very embarrassing to speak about, but this reluctance must be overcome as onset of bed-wetting during adult years can be a symptom of disease or other medical problems. It is a more common problem than people think as one person in every 100 is affected!

Common causes of adult bed-wetting include:

• urinary tract infections (UTIs)

• Diabetes

• Kidney disease

• Prostate enlargement

• Prostate cancer

• Small bladder

• Genetics

• Bladder cancer

• Side effects of medications such as sleeping tablets

• Neurological factors

• Stress and anxiety

• Sleep apnea

• Hormonal imbalance

At times, several tests have to be done to determine the correct cause of bed-wetting. If due to a UTI, then recurrence could occur if the antibiotic used was not the correct drug as sometimes happens. A urine sample could be sent by a doctor to the lab for testing to indicate the correct drug that should be used.

It is also good to keep a list of dry hours as when urinary incontinence occurs; how much liquid was drunk; as well as what the liquids were, e.g., alcohol or coffee. Useful information also includes what the urine stream looks like - steady and a full stream or weak and broken. This information should be shared with the doctor.

Alcohol, coffee, and diuretics (water tablets used to treat hypertension and heart disease) encourage the kidneys to make more urine. They should be avoided within three hours of bed time. Sleeping tablets can cause deep sleep, preventing waking up to pass urine.

Treatment, outside of the consultation with a doctor or urologist should involve, lifestyle modifications:

• Limit fluid intake, especially during the evening hours.

• Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from the diet.

• Set a urinary schedule to go at least every two hours to void urine.

• Void before sleeping even if the urge is not present.

• Set an alarm clock to wake you during the night for a bathroom break.

• Wear absorbent material at nights.

• Cover the bed with a special mattress cover.

• Try sleeping in a different bed or different room. This sometimes helps.

In many cases, controlling night-time bed-wetting will necessitate treatment of the underlying conditions discovered, but lifestyle changes help, and there are some medications that also help this problem, which include:

• Anticholinergic drugs such as Tofranil

• Antibiotics for the urinary tract

And sometimes also:

• Medications to reduce prostate swelling

• Medications to control diabetes

• CPAP treatment for people with sleep apnea

Visit your doctor. So many people with this problem hide it because of embarrassment, but plenty people have this problem, so get it sorted out!

Write to:

Check Up,

PO Box 1731,

KGN 8 or email:


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