Is it time to do more?

The medical term for bedwetting is primary nocturnal enuresis. It’s a term your doctor may use. Simply put, it’s the “involuntary wetting of the bed during sleep.”

Bedwetting is common in younger children who are still learning night-time bladder control. Most children will outgrow their bedwetting by about 5 to 6 years of age. But, in some, the problem persists even into the teenage years. About 15% of
5-year-olds wet their beds at night.

Bedwetting is a distressing condition that can have a deep impact on a child’s or teenager’s behaviour, emotional well-being and social life. It is also stressful for the parent or caregiver, who may feel helpless and frustrated.

Why hasn’t my child outgrown this?

The causes of bedwetting are not fully understood. Physical factors may include:

  • Too much urine production. Night-time urine production is controlled by anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). Some kids don’t produce enough ADH to slow night-time urine production. Medications can help reduce the amount of urine produced at night.
  • Deep sleep. Your child’s bladder is full but he or she doesn’t realize it until he or she wakes up. Alarms and other behavioural options may be helpful in many children.
  • Small bladders. Your child’s bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine produced during the night.
  • Constipation. The bowel presses on the bladder, causing the urge to urinate.
  • Urinary tract infection. Signs and symptoms include bedwetting, daytime accidents, frequent urination, bloody urine and pain during urination. If your child has these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
  • Genetic factors. Children are much more likely to wet their beds if their parents did.

Though psychological factors such as stress may be involved, they are not believed to cause bedwetting. Your child isn’t bringing it on themselves. But, emotional factors may have an impact on how effective a treatment is. Children may blame themselves or feel guilty. So, it’s vital to work at preserving your child’s self-esteem, which can include counselling or therapy.

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