While bedwetting can be a symptom of an underlying disease, a large majority of children who wet the bed have no underlying disease that explains theirbedwetting. In fact, an underlying condition is identified in only about 1% of children who routinely wet the bed.
That does not mean that the child who wets the bed can control it or is doing it on purpose. Children who wet are not lazy, willful, or disobedient. Bedwetting is most often a developmental issue.
There are 2 types of bedwetting: primary and secondary. Primary means bedwetting that has been ongoing since early childhood without a break. A child with primary bedwetting has never been dry at night for any significant length of time. Secondary bedwetting is bedwetting that starts up after the child has been dry at night for a significant period of time, at least 6 months.
What Causes Primary Bedwetting?
The cause is likely due to one or a combination of the following:
· The child cannot yet hold urine for the entire night.
· The child does not waken when his or her bladder is full.
· The child produces a large amount of urine during the evening and night hours.
· The child has poor daytime toilet habits. Many children habitually ignore the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can. Parents usually are familiar with the leg crossing, face straining, squirming, squatting, and groin holding that children use to hold back urine.
What Causes Secondary Bedwetting?
Secondary bedwetting can be a sign of an underlying medical or emotional problem. The child with secondary bedwetting is much more likely to have other symptoms, such as daytime wetting. Common causes of secondary bedwetting include the following:
· Urinary tract infection: The resulting bladderirritation can cause pain or irritation with urination, a stronger urge to urinate (urgency), and frequent urination(frequency). Urinary tract infections in children may indicate another problem, such as an anatomical abnormality.
· Diabetes: People with diabetes have a high level of sugar in their blood. The body increases urine output to try to get rid of the sugar. Having to urinate frequently is a common symptom of diabetes.
· Structural or anatomical abnormality: An abnormality in the organs, muscles, or nerves involved in urination can cause incontinence or other urinary problems that could show up as bedwetting.
· Neurological problems: Abnormalities in the nervous system, or injury or disease of the nervous system, can upset the delicate neurological balance that controls urination.
· Emotional problems: A stressful home life, as in a home where the parents are in conflict, sometimes causes children to wet the bed. Major changes, such as starting school, a new baby, or moving to a new home, are other stresses that can also cause bedwetting. Children who are being physically or sexually abused sometimes begin bedwetting.
Bedwetting does tend to run in families. Many children who wet the bed have a parent who did too. Most of these children stop bedwetting on their own at about the same age their parent did.
Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) can be worrying and frustrating, but it's common for children to accidentally wet the bed during the night. The problem usually resolves in time.
Bedwetting is common in young children but it gets less common as a child gets older.
In the UK, it's estimated that about:
About 1 in 100 people continue to wet the bed into adulthood.
Bedwetting is slightly more common in boys than girls.
Bedwetting is only really a problem if it begins to bother the children or parents. Only rarely will this be considered a problem in children under 5 years old. Many families first seek treatment when the bedwetting affects a child's social life (for example, preventing sleepovers).
Medical treatments aren't usually recommended for children under five (although exceptions can be made if a child finds bedwetting particularly upsetting).
If your child frequently wets the bed and finds it upsetting, speak to your GP for advice.
Read more about the symptoms of bedwetting.
There's usually no obvious reason why children wet the bed and it's not your child's fault. In many cases, the problem runs in families.
Bedwetting could be caused by your child:
Constipation is frequently associated with bedwetting, especially in children who don't wet themselves every night. In these cases, bedwetting may happen during the night when the child has not had a poo during the day. Sometimes, treating constipation is all that's needed to treat bedwetting. Untreated constipation makes any treatment of bedwetting much harder.
Occasionally, bedwetting can be triggered by emotional distress, such as being bullied or moving to a new school.
In rare cases, bedwetting may be the symptom of an underlying health condition, such as type 1 diabetes.
Soggy sheets and pajamas — and an embarrassed child — are a familiar scene in many homes. But don't despair. Bed-wetting isn't a sign of toilet training gone bad. It's often just a normal part of a child's development.
Bed-wetting is also known as nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis. Generally, bed-wetting before age 7 isn't a concern. At this age, your child may still be developing nighttime bladder control.
If bed-wetting continues, treat the problem with patience and understanding. Bladder training, moisture alarms or medication may help reduce bed-wetting.