Adult onset bed wetting, otherwise known as nocturnal enuresis, is relatively uncommon and can be caused by one or more of the following factors.
1. Problems with the urinary system
When the urinary tract is infected, or when there are stones there, the bladder gets irritated. Bladder irritation also occurs in men who suffer from prostate enlargement, as well as those who have bladder infection or cancer of the bladder.
As the condition worsens, the ability of the bladder to control the discharge of urine weakens, especially during sleep. Those who suffer from this condition are likely to face problems of incontinence during the day as well.
2. Chronic constipation
When the bowels cannot be discharged properly and the amount of fecal matters builds up, additional pressure is exerted on the bladder. This weakens the bladder, leading to involuntary discharge during sleep.
Bed wetting can be an indication of the onset of Type 2 diabetes, where the body does not produce sufficient insulin to bring glucose from the blood into the cells.
4. Sleep disorders
Obstructive sleep apnea (which arises from obstruction to the upper airway) and night seizures can trigger enuresis.
5. Neurological disorders
Bed wetting can be a symptom for acute anxiety or other emotional stress that the person is facing.
6. Psychological factors
For those who used to suffer from bed wetting in their childhood and had since ceased the habit, traumatic incidents (such as death in the family, or sexual and physical abuse) can trigger a return to bed wetting. Known as secondary nocturnal enuresis, it is treated as a symptom, rather than as a psychological condition in itself.
Stress is well-established medically as a cause of secondary nocturnal enuresis. Research has shown that different forms of stress can contribute to a sense of insecurity, followed by a return to the habit of bed wetting. These include relocation to a new city, spousal conflict or divorce, arrival of a new baby, or loss of a loved one or a pet.
Caffeine is diuretic and causes the body to increase the production of urine. A person who has consumed a huge amount of coffee or other beverages containing high levels of caffeine prior to sleeping may experience one-off episodes of bed wetting.
9. Food allergies
Although not fully proven yet, food allergies may be part of the cause of enuresis for some patients.
No matter the cause(s), a person should consult a medical professional at the sign of bed wetting so that a full examination can be carried out.