Wetting the bed as a preteen or teenager is not uncommon. It is estimated that approximately three percent of all fourteen-year-old boys and girls continue to wet their beds at night in varying degrees (in other words it might only be twice a week but it is still consistent behavior). Bed wetting at any age is considered to be more widespread in males than it is in females.
Bed wetting at any age is broken down into two categories- primary nocturnal enuresis (or simply primary enuresis) and secondary nocturnal enuresis (or secondary enuresis). Primary enuresis is when the adolescent suffers from “persistent involuntary nighttime urination” and rarely wakes to a dry bed. Secondary enuresis on the other hand is when an adolescent begins wetting their bed on a fairly consistent basis after having had no previous bed wetting instances in the preceding six months.
Three of the most common reasons for primary enuresis are a genetic predisposition towards it, a tendency to be a deep sleeper and a limited production of a hormone known as vasopressin. Primary bed wetting appears to have a genetic link. Approximately seventy-five percent of children who do it had a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent who also experienced the same problem. Some people are much deeper sleepers than others (the deepest stage of sleep being rapid eye movement or REM) and therefore have a difficult time waking themselves up or being awakened by others. Many of these people do not easily awaken to an alarm clock either. Vasopressin is an ant-diuretic hormone that lets the kidneys know that they should make the urine they produce as concentrated as possible thereby not allowing the bladder to go beyond its capacity to hold urine. It is theorized that those who suffer from primary enuresis do not produce as much of the hormone Vasopressin as other people do.
Secondary enuresis is often caused by a bladder infection. Bladder infections can also be accompanied by other physical symptoms such as a feeling of pain or discomfort in the abdomen or in the lower back in the area of the kidneys and/or a feeling of burning while urinating. If you suspect a urinary tract infection could be causing your secondary enuresis, pay a visit to your doctor for a proper diagnosis and a prescription for antibiotics. Stress either at home or at school can also bring on a bout of secondary enuresis in some adolescents. This is a very stressful time for many young people and therefore they need all of the encouragement and support they can get. Remember that an adolescent is in the process of developing their sense of self at this critical and sensitive period of development and many things can cause injury to a person’s vulnerable self-esteem. Rest assured that your preteen or teenager is as normal as anyone else. They are not dirty, lazy or undisciplined. They are instead going through a rough time and need as much love and support as possible. Never get angry at a bed wetting preteen and instead be understanding and open to conversation when the need arises.