A new study predicts that nocturnal enuresis, commonly known as bedwetting, could be an additional symptom to look out for when examining post-menopausal women for obstructive sleep apnea. The condition, if left untreated, can cause serious medical complications, including cardiovascular disease due to insufficient oxygen supply to organs.

Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea Be Linked With Bed-Wetting?

At least 2 percent of women allegedly experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, the condition is often under-diagnosed in older women.

According to lead author Patrick Koo, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a Physician at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, previous studies suggest that women understate certain symptoms when asked about poor sleep, which leads to misdiagnoses.

Therefore, Koo and his team decided to investigate whether nocturnal enuresis, which is knowingly associated with OSA in children, could also be a risk factor among older post-menopausal women.

Determining A Link

The researchers analyzed a bulk of health data compiled via the Women’s Health Initiative, an extensive research program that registered and followed over 161,000 post-menopausal women between the years 1993 and 2005. Koo and colleagues reviewed the prevalence of risk factors associated with conventional OSA among women, such as snoring, obesity, interrupted or poor sleep, daytime sleepiness and hypertension, and their individual and collective link with bed-wetting.

Possible confounding factors, including term pregnancies, consumption of alcohol, and various demographic and medical characteristics were accounted for.

New Symptom For Clinicians

Results showed that increased risk factors associated with conventional OSA increased the odds of experiencing nocturnal enuresis among post-menopausal women. On average, a woman with any two risk factors was twice as likely to urinate in her sleep as compared to a woman with no risk factors. Similarly, a woman with four risk factors was four times more likely to develop the problem.

“We observed that OSA risk factors are potentially associated with nocturnal enuresis in postmenopausal women”, “When screening for OSA, clinicians may find it useful to ask about nocturnal enuresis as a possible symptom”, concluded Koo and colleagues. The research was published in the journal Menopause.