Friday, October 17, 2008

ADHD and Bedwetting



It's a classic problem that often puzzles parents of ADHD children. Why does my 13 year old still wet his bed? As it turns out, bed wetting, or enuresis, is a surprisingly common comorbid (co-occurring) disorder to ADHD. Other ADHD comorbid disorders that have been mentioned in previous posts include epilepsy and Tourette's Syndrome.

While there is some evidence that the two disorders share a common underlying cause (the lack of inhibitory behavior present in ADHD could span to poor muscle control), it is interesting to note that the comorbid disorder of bed wetting is connected most strongly to the Inattentive Subtype of ADHD (as opposed to the Hyperactive/Impulsive Subtype or the Combined Subtype).

Furthermore, the use of the tricyclic antidepressant drug Tofranil (Imipramine), which is often used to treat bladder control problems, has also been shown to be an effective medication for treating ADHD in some cases. We will explore this in a bit more detail in a later post, but it is important to remember that enuresis is an unusually common disorder in individuals with ADHD, especially with the Inattentive Subtype in particular. Given the fact that medications used to treat this co-occurring disorder are also sometimes useful in treating ADHD, it is my hope that other existing drugs may be further explored for their role in treating ADHD.

ADHD Medications

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2 comments:

IsabelsAunt said...

Could ADHD and bedwetting share an allergic cause? I've heard of "allergic bladder"--increased urgency due to irritation of the bladder by the cytokines produced during an allergic response to food. Also lower than normal stimulation of neurons by dopamine, norepinephrine and/or epinephrine (however created) might result in deeper sleep. A direct impairment of muscles might not be a part of the problem.

My exceedingly well-coordinated sister was an undiagnosed ADHD kid w/ bedwetting problems, so I think other mechanisms are responsible in some children.

Lugina said...

I have three kids. Two are bedwetters and have been diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. They are 17 and 10. My third just turned 4. He's been dry at night for over a year and a half...I suspect he'll do fine in school as well.

Very, very interesting. My husband was a bedwetter until his late teens as well and I suspect, based on having lived with him for 18 years, that he also has ADHD.