Bedwetting: not the child's fault

Wetting the bed at night (enuresis) is very common in young children. In fact, it is normal up to the age of five.

Bedwetting becomes less frequent with age, however, 10% of five year olds and 5% of ten year olds still wet the bed. Boys are more commonly affected than girls.

What causes bedwetting?

Most children with bedwetting have no physical or emotional cause but simply have a bladder that is slow to mature. The wetting occurs while the child is asleep and the child has no control over it. Bedwetting is often inherited from parents.

Children with bedwetting do not respond to the normal warning signals to empty the bladder when it is full at night. Also, many bedwetters produce low levels of a hormone (ADH) at night, resulting in  an increased urine production.

Treatment of bedwetting

Treatment is not usually started until the age of six or seven, as younger children do not generally respond. Try to be patient and understanding, as the child cannot help the problem – punishment often does more harm than good! Taking the child to the toilet at night does not normally help, nor does reducing fluids in the evening.

A bedwetting alarm is usually tried first. This device detects the presence of urine in the bed at night and wakes the child. It is used from about the age of seven and works in three out of four children.

Desmopressin nasal spray is also effective and has few side effects. It is normally used for about six months. Bladder training programs can also work. Imipramine tablets are sometimes used, but have more side effects.

Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.

Source: Summer 1998 Edition | Page 4

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