Nocturnal Enuresis (Bedwetting)

Bedwetting happens when a child involuntarily wets whilst sleeping and because they are asleep, they don’t have the awareness they have whilst awake.  It is not a child's fault they wet at night, nor are they being lazy.

The medical name for bedwetting is nocturnal enuresis. If a child has never been dry at night for a period of at least 6 months, it is called primary nocturnal enuresis¹. If a child has been dry for 6 months or more and begins wetting at night again, this is called secondary nocturnal enuresis.¹

Doctors have shown that children with wetting problems are more prone to develop co-morbid psychological problems.¹  Children may become socially isolated, emotionally distressed and have a low self-esteem, as a result of enuresis.² Yet, bedwetting can be treated simply and effectively saving the family a great deal of anguish.

Treatment of enuresis can be both frustrating and difficult for both the parents and child as it is not always successful. The combination of a motivated child and a cooperative family is the best predictor of a positive outcome. If a child does not view the wetting as a problem and is not interested in treatment the waiting may be appropriate. Children should be approximately 6 to 8 years of age before treatment is under taken. ¹ This condition can be treated with medicine or conditioning (alarm) therapy. Alarm therapy is proclaimed to be amongst the most effective interventions for treating childhood nocturnal enuresis.²

Causes of bedwetting¹

  • The kidneys produce more urine than the bladder can hold
  • Patients do not wake up when their bladders are full
  • Reduced bladder capacity

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¹ Hjalmas. K et al. Nocturnal enuresis. An international evidence based management strategy. The Journal of Urology, June 2004, Vol 171,2545-2561

² Butler. R et al. Treatment of childhood nocturnal enuresis: an examination of clinically relevant principles. BJU International (2001), 88,563-571