Bed-wetting — also called nocturnal enuresis — is an involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which staying dry at night can be reasonably expected. Enuresis is the medical term for wetting, whether in the clothing during the day or in bed at night.
Wet sheets and pajamas and an embarrassed face are a familiar scene in many homes. It’s often just a normal part of a child’s development.
Bed-wetting can affect anyone, but it’s twice as common in boys as in girls. Generally, bed-wetting before age 7 isn’t a concern. At this age, your child may still be developing nighttime bladder control. But when it continues into adulthood, it becomes a fight to be fought. And that is what we are taking a look at today.
Bed-wetting can be grouped into two main types. (1) Nocturnal enuresis is considered primary (PNE) when a child has not yet had a prolonged period of being dry. (2) Secondary nocturnal enuresis (SNE) is when an individual experiences bed-wetting at the adult stage. Secondary bed-wetting can be a sign of an underlying medical or emotional problem.
Although frustrating, bed-wetting without a physical cause doesn’t pose any health risks. However, bed-wetting can create some issues for your child, including:
- Guilt and embarrassment, which can lead to low self-esteem
- Loss of opportunities for social activities, such as sleepovers and camp
- Rashes on the child’s bottom and genital area — especially if the street sleeps in wet underwear
No one knows for sure what causes bed-wetting, but here are factors that play a role:
- A small bladder. Victim’s bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine produced during the night.
- Inability to recognize a full bladder. If the nerves that control the bladder are slow to mature, a full bladder may not wake your child — especially if the victim is a deep sleeper. There’s really no target date for developing complete bladder control.
- A hormone imbalance. During childhood stage, some adult victims didn’t produce enough anti-diuretic hormones (ADH) to slow nighttime urine production.
- Urinary tract infection. This infection can make it difficult for you to control urination. Signs and symptoms may include bed-wetting, daytime accidents, frequent urination, and pain during urination.
- Diabetes. For a child who’s usually dry at night, bed-wetting may be the first sign of diabetes. Other signs and symptoms may include passing large amounts of urine at once, increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss in spite of a good appetite.
- Chronic constipation. The same muscles are used to control urine and stool elimination. When constipation is long term, these muscles can become dysfunctional and contribute to bed-wetting at night.
- A structural problem in the urinary tract or nervous system. Rarely, bed-wetting is related to a defect in the neurological system or urinary system.
- Excessive fluid intake.
Treatments for Bedwetting
Here are some tips for helping your child stop wetting the bed. These are techniques that are most often successful. Bedwetting is typically seen more as a social disturbance than a medical disease. It creates embarrassment and anxiety in the victim.
Reduce evening fluid intake. The victim should try to not take excessive fluids, caffeine, carbonated drinks, or citrus after 3 p.m. Routine fluids with dinner are appropriate.
A Bedwetting alarm can be of a great help. A majority of victims stop bedwetting after using these alarms. They are alarms that are set at particular times to wake up the victim to use the washroom. With persistence, this method works for a majority in the long run. These alarms take time to work. The victim should use the alarm for a few weeks or even months before considering it a failure.
Lifestyle changes, bladder training, moisture alarms and sometimes medication may help reduce bed-wetting.
At the childhood stage, most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own — but in the case where it continue to the adolescent and adulthood stage, great help is needed. In other cases, bed-wetting may be a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical attention.
The parents’, friends’, and close relatives’ attitude toward bedwetting is all important in motivating the victim to overcome it.
- Focus on the problem: bedwetting. Avoid blaming or disgracing the person. The person cannot control the bedwetting, and blaming just make the problem more frustrating for all.
- Be patient and supportive. Reassure and encourage the person often. Do not make an issue out of the bedwetting each time it happens.
- Enforce a “no teasing” rule in the family. No one is allowed to tease the person about the bedwetting, including those outside the immediate family. Do not discuss the bedwetting in front of other family members.
- Help the child understand that the responsibility for being dry is his or hers and not that of the parents. Reassure the victim that you want to help him or her overcome the problem. If applicable, remind him/her that a close relative successfully dealt with this same issue.