The 8 Things Parents Need to Know about Bedwetting (Nocturnal enuresis)

The 8 Things Parents Need to Know about Bedwetting

If you’re wondering how to prevent your children’s nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do because it is involuntary.

What are the causes of bedwetting?

There are two main causes of bedwetting. Most children who wet the bed are deep sleepers and therefore, don’t respond to a full bladder. Other kids don’t produce adequate amounts of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which typically slows down urination at night. In either case, with time, the nerve control to the bladder will mature or it will start producing more ADH.

Pediatrician Marie De Alwis, MD, UnityPoint Health, explains eight things parents should know about bedwetting.

  • Bedwetting age. Bedwetting in children typically happens during pre-school and may go until about seven to eight years of age. However, in certain cases, it will lead to teenage bedwetting.
  • Frequency of bedwetting. Some children may wet the bed once per week, and other children may wet the bed every night. Either way, it shouldn’t be a big concern.
  • Gender plays a role. Bedwetting can impact anyone, but boys are twice as likely to be effected as girls.
  • Genetics matter. If one or both parents have a history of bedwetting, there is a significantly higher chance their children will also be affected by it.
  • Bedwetting causes. Caffeine is the most common dietary culprit to bedwetting. However, stress can also trigger it. In these cases, it’s important to address the traumatic issues or stressors.
  • Avoid fluids before bed. Stop fluids two hours prior to bedtime. Also, make it a habit for children to use the bathroom before lying down, and make sure the bathroom is easily accessible.
  • Don’t try punishments or training. They don’t work. Essentially, growth and development is the only way to stop bedwetting.
  • Medication is an option. However, medication will only help short-term, and bedwetting will resume after it is stopped.

Nocturnal Enuresis in Children: When to be Concerned

Dr. De Alwis says ultimately, time is the only definite bedwetting solution. But, there are a few things that should raise a red flag, triggering a call or visit with a UnityPoint Health provider. If a child never wets the bed, then begins to have accidents, you should talk with your provider. Another red flag is seeing daytime accidents, in addition to nighttime bedwetting.

“Other red flags would be painful urination, blood or discolored urination, difficulty stooling, stooling accidents, weight loss and increased thirst or loud snoring or gasping at night,” Dr. De Alwis says. “These other symptoms may be indicative of health implications, such as urinary tract infection (UTI), diabetes, chronic constipation or even sleep apnea.”

How to Discuss Bedwetting

Dr. De Alwis says it’s important to let parents know it’s alright to discuss the issue with their children and in most cases, it’s beneficial. Most children feel embarrassed about wetting their bed and therefore, it’s important to be empathetic while discussing it.

“If there is a strong family history of bedwetting, sharing this information might be helpful. Children may not feel isolated after learning other family members have gone through the same experience,” Dr. De Alwis says.

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