Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, occurs when someone involuntarily urinates while sleeping.
A common issue with children, bedwetting affects around five-seven million children in the United States. Affecting mostly boys, bedwetting occurs in all ages and both sexes.
It is a condition that the sufferer cannot control.
The incidents, though, can be troubling to both child and parent, making it important for parents to remain calm as the child could be embarrassed and upset.
Many people view nocturnal enuresis as a childhood condition, but both adolescents and adults do suffer from it. One-two percent of adults and one-three percent of teens can be classified as enuretic. Around five percent of boys and one percent of girls at age 12 have the condition.
A child who has a parent (or both parents) who were also enuretic is more likely to suffer from bedwetting. It is no longer believed that stress or sleep disorders are a risk factor for developing the condition.
At one time, it was thought that bedwetting was due to psychological factors, but now, medical professionals believe that physiological and developmental factors play a role. It is widely believed that for the majority of children who suffer from bedwetting, there is not a medical cause. Instead, it’s more likely due to a developmental delay with the bladder, causing the child not to wake up when the bladder is full.
Another factor believed to be a cause is the lack of an antidiuretic hormone that most people produce in their sleep. This hormone reduces the amount of urine that is created during sleep. This factor is common for adults who are enuretic. An overactive bladder or bladder cancer can also be a cause for adults.
To diagnose a child with nocturnal enuresis, he or she must be at least five years old with two or more incidents of wetting the bed a month. During the evaluation, the doctor will conduct a physical exam, take a urinalysis and study the medical history of the child. Other factors, such as injuries or infections, need to be ruled out before a diagnosis is made.
Commonly, doctors will advise parents to take a “wait and see” approach. Most children do grow out of it. Due to the unsettling nature of the problem, many parents would rather seek treatment to allow the child to have a better sense of self-esteem, especially if it is a nightly occurrence.
To correct the problem, there are several treatment methods available for parents that do not want to wait it out. One option is an alarm that goes off when it gets wet, which has shown promise for patients and families. There are also medications that can be used: desmopressin, which decreases urine production during sleep, and imipramine, a drug that relaxes the bladder muscle.