Bedwetting is an embarrassing problem, and it is usually thought of as something that only afflicts children. Unfortunately, though, it can also affect adults. It can have a range of causes, but one of the most common is sleep apnea. Let’s discuss the connection between these two issues and talk about how you may be able to address both of them.
Bedwetting and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night. The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), occurs when tissues in the throat block the upper airway.
At first, it may seem counterintuitive to think that sleep apnea could have any correlation with bedwetting. However, one study found that roughly 7% of people with the sleep disorder also wet the bed. Those who do not wet their bed are likely to suffer from nocturia (frequent nighttime urination). In fact, in one survey, 84% of people with sleep apnea reported nocturia.
Unfortunately, the correlation between nighttime urination problems and sleep apnea is not widely known. Hence, people are more likely to ask for help from their urologist or primary care practitioner, rather than a sleep expert. Without knowing if their patient is suffering from other symptoms of sleep apnea, these doctors may attribute the urination problems to aging in women or prostate problems in men.
Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Bedwetting?
It’s not possible to say exactly why sleep apnea increases the risk of bedwetting and nocturia. One theory behind bedwetting is that sleep apnea makes its victims so exhausted that they cannot arouse themselves at night to go to the restroom. It is also possible that sleep apnea affects the hormones that control urinary urges and control.
Often, addressing sleep apnea also eliminates or reduces secondary OSA symptoms, including bedwetting and nocturia. Some popular treatments for OSA include:
- CPAP therapy. A CPAP machine uses pressurized air to facilitate uninterrupted breathing. While it is quite effective, many patients find it difficult to tolerate.
- Oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance gently repositions the jaw to keep the airway open. This type of treatment is generally much more convenient and comfortable than CPAP therapy.
- Surgery. The type of surgery used to address sleep apnea can vary from patient to patient. Some children with sleep apnea wet the bed less often after their tonsils are removed.
- Lifestyle changes. Things like losing extra weight, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, and adopting a side-sleeping position may reduce OSA symptoms.
Bedwetting is inconvenient and embarrassing. If you suffer from it, pursuing sleep apnea treatment might be the key to finding relief and enjoying high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Keith Hollinger is a general dentist and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He has many years of experience and is particularly passionate about helping patients treat OSA via oral appliance therapy. To learn more about sleep apnea or schedule a consultation with Dr. Hollinger, contact our office at 860-430-5687.