Bedwetting. Not so harmless.

Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is common, affecting 20% of 5-year olds. Although most cases settle with time and cause no physical harm, bedwetting can have serious psychological effects. 

Bedwetting can lower a child’s self-esteem and cause feelings of shame and guilt. Teasing by siblings and friends is common and relationships can be affected. Bedwetting may prevent sleepovers and overnight school excursions.

Bedwetting can also disrupt sleep and lead to reduced school performance.

A check-up by your GP is a good idea to look for underlying physical causes such as a bladder infection, diabetes or constipation. Fortunately, these are uncommon. 

Try a bedwetting alarm first

Treatment is usually started from about the age of 6 or 7 with a bedwetting alarm. There are 2 types of alarm, which are equally effective:

A personal bedwetting alarm

1. Personal alarms. 
Consist of a small sensor clipped to the underwear and an alarm unit attached to the pyjamas (pictured).

2. Bell and pad alarms 
A large rubber sensor mat on the bed is connected to an alarm unit next to the bed.

The urine activates the alarm and wakes the child. This trains the child to wake in future when the bladder is full. Two out of 3 children become dry while using the alarm and half remain dry long-term.

A second option is desmopressin, a medicine which reduces urine production. It gives temporary relief in most cases and is useful for nights away from home. It can also be used with an alarm.

Strategies such as restricting fluids, waking the child from sleep and star charts have not been shown to be effective.

For further information speak to your GP, ring the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 or visit or

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

Source: Spring 2008 Edition | Page 4

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