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Introduction

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Bedwetting refers to the involuntary urination noted in children that occurs especially at night. Medical world calls this developmental stage of the growing child as the “enuresis stage.” A Child is considered to have primary enuresis, when he or she had never been dry at night time and children who begin to wet the bed after at least 6 months of dry nights are considered to have secondary enuresis.

Bedwetting is commonly noted in children until they reach the age of 5 or 6 years. This condition is more frequent in boys than girls. Most children (as per reports, 15 out of 100 children) stop bedwetting eventually without any treatment at all.

Reasons for bedwetting

There are several factors that have been reported to cause bedwetting in young children. Hereditary factor is considered as the most common cause. So, if you had the problem during your childhood, your child may have a higher risk. In some children the central nervous system which controls all the activities including the ability to control urination may not have developed completely. Therefore such children may continue to wet their beds until complete development. Some may have difficulty in waking up from sleep, while others may be facing high stress (due to constant nagging, punishments, etc). Underlying problems such as a small bladder, infections of the urinary organs, abnormalities in the sphincters that control the urination or abnormalities in the spinal cord are some rare causes of bedwetting.

Signs of bedwetting

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Uncontrolled or involuntary urination, especially at night that occurs for about 2 times in a month is the common sign of bedwetting. This frequency may vary. This may be noted until the child attains an age of 6 years when the bladder control develops completely.

When bedwetting stops in most children

In most of the children bedwetting stops without any treatment by the time they attain the age of 6 years.

How to deal with bedwetting

However, doing nothing about it or punishing the child for bedwetting can worsen the situation and cause prolongation of the problem. Taking simple steps at home can result in faster recovery. However, if the problem persists beyond six years of age or if you notice any signs of infection of the urinary organs, take your child to a doctor immediately.

Always reassure your child that this is a common problem that he/she can overcome easily. Make sure that you follow some of these following steps during home treatment for bedwetting:

  • Ensure the child visits the toilet at regular intervals during the day and the evening to ensure that he/she does not hold urine for long periods of time
  • Ask your child to urinate before going to the bed
  • Reduce the amount of fluid intake in the late evenings or just before sleep
  • Remember to reward your child for ‘dry nights’
  • Involve your child in changing sheets after a wet night and putting it to laundry; remember not to scold or punish him/her for that

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Bedwetting alarms are available in some stores that ring as soon as the child starts urinating in the bed. The child can be woken up and made to visit the bathroom for urination. Using this for a few nights can enable the child to wake up in case he feels like urinating.

When to meet your doctor

You may meet the doctor if the bedwetting problems persist beyond the age of 7 years. Medications known as desmopressins and tricyclic antidepressants are commonly prescribed by the doctors to aid in the treatment of bedwetting. However, this is only a short term treatment and the major treatment should be the home remedies discussed before.

Some beneficial tips

  • Refrain from punishing or scolding the child after an ‘accident.’
  • Advise the child that he can use the toilet at night. Keep the way to the toilet lit, this will make it easier for the child to find his way to the toilet.
  • A plastic cover on the entire bed can help protect your mattress.

Sources:

1.Familydoctor.org. Enuresis (Bed-Wetting). [updated: June 2008; cited: November 2009].Available at http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children/parents/toilet/366.html.

2.Medline plus. Bedwetting. [updated: May 2008; cited: November 2009}.Available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001556.htm.

3.Kidshealth.Bedwetting. [updated: March 2007; cited: November 2009].Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/bladder/enuresis.html.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 18, 2015