Q: I have a 75-year-old mother and a 5-year-old son - and both of them are wetting the bed. Double help!
JEAN F., BOISE
A: Bed-wetting and incontinence are challenging problems for those experiencing the trouble and the caregiver. Both conditions can be managed pretty well.
Your son is only 5; occasional bed-wetting is common up to age 7. About 20 percent of 5-year-olds can't always stay dry at night. They may not have fully developed bladder control mechanisms, or they're not producing enough of the hormone vasopressin, which reduces urine production at night. Rarely is bedwetting a sign of illness.
Your best bet is:
Use absorbent pads and underwear at night.
Eliminate all caffeine-containing drinks (colas, for example).
Make sure he urinates regularly during the day and right before bed.
You also can use a moisture alarm that will wake him at the first sign of dampness. In six to 12 weeks he may begin to recognize the feeling that he has to go and wake himself up.
For many older folks, incontinence is a problem. When it happens at night, it's usually from an overactive bladder - and leakage can happen with or without the sensation that you gotta go. Some medications trigger OAB, as can neurological disease, injury or infection, but much of the time the cause is unknown. Fortunately, there are solutions.
Your mom can try pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) and bladder retraining to increase her ability to hold in urine.
Medications are effective. Check with her doc and ask about oxybutynin, which inhibits nerve impulses that cause leakage, and darifenacin, which reduces muscle spasms of the bladder and urinary tract.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.