Facts about Bed-Wetting

Growth and Development, Health and Safety

Most children are affected by bed-wetting up to a certain age. Wet sheets and distressed kids are all too common in most households and should not be taken as a sign of anything more than a natural stage in your child’s development. Understand more about the causes and cures of this common condition to mitigate the risk of any further distress in the family home.

Symptoms. Bed-wetting (also known as nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis) is the practice of involuntarily urinating while asleep. The habit of bed-wetting can cause discomfort and distress in children and parents, who worry that the practice is a symptom of something more serious. Peer awareness is another problem for parents, as kids grow out of the habit at very different ages. If your child is still wetting the bed, it may become a social pressure, where he or she is reluctant to sleep over a friend’s or relative’s house or to be exposed to any situation where the problem may manifest itself.

Causes. The exact causes of bed-wetting are not fully understood, but a number of factors may cause the problem. If your child’s bladder is not yet fully developed, then it may not be large enough to hold urine through the night. Alternatively, as indicated by the Mayo Clinic, the nerves that control the bladder may be slow to mature and may therefore not wake your child when he or she needs to go to the bathroom. A hormone imbalance is another possible cause. Stressful events, such as starting school or sleeping away from the family home, may also trigger bed-wetting. Bed-wetting after a period of dry sleep could point to a urinary tract infection, chronic constipation or the early signs of diabetes, too.

Treatment options. You may not wish to consider treating bed-wetting if your child doesn’t seem particularly bothered or if the problem only occurs occasionally. But if you or your child is concerned, you can try a variety of treatments. A moisture alarm can be placed in your child’s pajamas or bedding and will sound as soon as moisture is detected, preventing a full incident. In more serious cases, medication can be prescribed, which slows the production of urine at night, calming the bladder or by changing your child’s sleeping pattern. Medication does not permanently cure the problem, however, whereas a moisture alarm can be an effective long-term solution.

Lifestyle changes. Changes to your child’s lifestyle can also make a big difference. Limiting the amount of fluid consumed in the evening will reduce urine production overnight. According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeinated drinks can increase the need to urinate and should be avoided. Train your child to urinate regularly during the day, so that he or she doesn’t develop an urgent need to use the bathroom. Constipation should be treated as soon it becomes apparent, too, as this can exacerbate the problem.

Consult your doctor. Bed-wetting is an entirely nature practice and should not normally be seen as a reason to talk to a doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, however, you should think about talking to your doctor if your child is still wetting the bed after the age of 6 or 7, if the habit recommences after a period without bed-wetting or if the practice causes pain, unusual thirst, pink urine or snoring.

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