What causes bedwetting and when to be concerned

What causes bedwetting and when to be concerned

By Debra Freund, MS PNP-BC CUNP ARNP
Pediatric Urology Nurse Practitioner

Bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is a very common childhood problem.  The number of children with this problem varies by age. For example, at five years of age, an average of 16% of children will have a bedwetting accident.  By 15 years of age and older, 1-2 % continue to wet the bed.  For most children, this will improve or resolve without any treatment as they get older.

What can cause bedwetting?

Bedwetting may be related to one or more of the following:

  • The child’s bladder holds a smaller than normal amount
  • Genetics (parents who had nocturnal enuresis as a child are more likely to have children with the same concern)
  • Diminished levels of vasopressin (a hormone that reduces urine production at night)
  • The mechanism for the bladder and brain to talk to each other is “off line”
  • Underlying medical/emotional concerns (i.e. diabetes, urinary tract infection, ADHD, etc)

When does a child achieve dryness at night?

Typically, children will learn to stay dry during the daytime first, then they will achieve night time dryness. This whole process generally can take up age 4-5.

When is bedwetting a concern? 

Typically, when it bothers the child or concerns the parent is a good time to address the issue with your healthcare provider. Bedwetting can be embarrassing for the child, stopping them from sleep overs with friends and causing them to withdraw from social activities.  It can be an expense and inconvenience for the parents as well as a concern on the parents’ part who worry about a possible underlying medical condition.

Resources for you and your child:
VIP for Kids at Swedish Pediatric Specialty Clinic is a program developed specifically to meet the needs of children who are dealing with urinary incontinence (wetting accidents) including bedwetting and daytime wetting accidents, problems with voiding urgently or frequently, or painful urination.  It also helps those children who are experiencing urinary tract infections (UTI’s).

The VIP for Kids program is designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation and a personalized treatment program for each child and family, recognizing the emotional impact these problems can have on kids. For more information about the VIP for Kids program, call 206-215-2700.

Ed. note: click here to read another post with tips on how to handle wetting accidents while traveling.

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