When is bedwetting a problem?
It is common for young children to wet the bed until they are at least five
years of age. No treatment is in fact recommended at this age, but when this occurs from the age of five and above, it becomes a problem.
It most often occurs during sleep (nocturnal enuresis), but could also occur while awake during the day (daytime enuresis). Bedwetting isn’t serious. But it can make children feel embarrassed or upset, especially if they’re older or they get teased about it.
It’s important to know that beating or embarrassing a bed-wetting child can worsen the condition. So it helps to encourage and praise them when they make progress.
What treatments work?
Most children stop wetting the bed on their own. Studies show that only about 16 percent of children continue to wet their bed at 5 years of age, and just about 2 percent at 15 years of age. This means that nearly all children will eventually stop by themselves. But there are treatments that can help some children stop sooner.
Routines and good habits
The first thing to try, and that helps for many people, involves getting your child into good toilet habits day and night. These should help your child learn how to control their bladder.
• Remind and encourage them to go to the toilet as often as they need to during the day, as well as just before bedtime. Do not however pressurise or threaten them.
• Gently dissuade them from drinking too much close to bedtime. But be sure to let them have enough water much earlier so they don’t go to bed thirsty.
• Zero down on your child’s intake of drinks containing caffeine, and chocolate drinks. These may make cause the body to produce larger volumes of urine in a shorter time.
A professional urotherapist may offer more help through “bladder training” if need be.
Other conditions that might cause bedwetting
Most children who wet the bed at night usually have normal daytime bladder control. However, in a few others, genetic predisposition, abnormal sleep pattern and abnormal bladder control development have been implicated. Some children wet the bed because they have constipation and breathing problems. Dealing with these other medical conditions may help address enuresis.
These are devices that make a sound when the child begins to wet the bed, such that they wake up (or are woken up by a parent) to finish urinating in the toilet. Research has shown that this method is probably the most likely treatment to help children remain dry at night. It may however take several weeks or months to see an improvement.
Medicines are only a last resort in treatment of bedwetting, and usually only used in children over 7 years of age. It may be used in combination with an alarm.
A medicine called desmopressin is the one used most often. It is similar to the hormone vasopressin produced by the body and both work by making urine
more concentrated, so the bladder doesn’t make so much of it. Desmopressin however usually works only in children whose bodies do not produce enough vasopressin, and because it doesn’t help children to learn about how to control their bladders, most children start wetting the bed again once they stop taking it.
If desmopressin doesn’t work for your child it’s possible that they have an overactive bladder. Drugs like imipramine may be prescribed by the doctor for such children. But it is rarely used now, because in most children newer drugs seem to work better and with fewer side effects.
What will happen to my child?
Most children stop bedwetting on their own as they grow older. Others require some intervention to achieve dryness. But very rarely, some people continue bedwetting even as adults despite all the treatments, and this happens in about 1 in 200 of cases.
If someone who had already achieved dryness in the past suddenly develops enuresis, other medical conditions and bladder problems must have to be sought for.