Parents often worry about bed-wetting in their children. It is a problem defined as- involuntary urination in children around 5 years of age or even older. Enuresis, a medical term for Bed-wetting, is the loss of bladder control that leads to the release of urine during sleep without knowing. It’s quite a common problem in children i.e. around 5 million to 7 million children wet their bed during sleep, that too, unknowingly. Most children achieve certain degree of bladder control by 4 years of age.
There are several factors that affect the bed-wetting problem, such as, gender of child i.e. it is mostly seen among male child; child’s mental development; child’s maturity and child’s physical-emotional health i.e. chronic illness related to emotional and physical abuse. Bed-wetting is a very common problem, simultaneously, treatable too. Parents must understand that bed-wetting is involuntary. Try treating the problem with patience and understanding. Child who wets the bed needs parental support, so please help your child with their bed-wetting. Children with this embarrassing problem can be treated with several devices, treatments and techniques available these days.
Symptoms of child’s Bed-wetting
Children tend to have no major symptoms other than wetting the bed while sleeping. Some symptoms can also be seen in a child, like psychological problems with the nervous system or kidneys. Parents should consult the family or health-care provider as this may be more than normal bedwetting issue. Let’s pin point some symptoms of child’s bed-wetting:
- Bed-wetting during deep sleep.
- Frequency or burning on urination
- Straining, dribbling or any other unusual symptoms with urination
- Cloudy or pinkish urine, or blood stains on bottom-wear.
- Children urinating more frequently, i.e. almost 10-12 times each day.
Causes of child’s bed-wetting
One has to be clear that bed-wetting is not a mental or behavior problem. Also, it’s not a result of your child’s lazy behavior neither child does it willfully. There are several reasons that causes of bed-wetting in a child. It can due to immaturity of the nervous system i.e. child does not recognize the sensation of the full bladder during sleep.
- Genetic factors that tends to run in families’ i.e. in majority of cases, bed-wetting is inherited. Almost 3 out of 4 kids, can be a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent also must have wet the bed in their childhood.
- Stress i.e. going through any big changes like arrival of a new sibling, or other stressors, can lead to children wetting the bed.
- Slower than normal development of the central nervous system. This reduces the child’s ability to recognize a full bladder while sleeping. If the nerves that control the bladder are not matured, a full bladder may not wake your child.
- Hormonal factors i.e. a hormone named, antidiuretic hormone, is not enough produced. This hormone works in slowing the urine production at night.
- Urinary tract infections can make it difficult for your child to control urination. Symptoms may include bed-wetting, daytime accidents, frequent urination, red or pink urine, and pain during urination.
- Abnormalities in the spinal cord.
- A small bladder i.e. your child's bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine produced during the night.
- Sometimes bed-wetting can be due to obstructive sleep apnea i.e. a condition in which the child's breathing is interrupted during sleep. It can be due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
- A child who is usually dry at night, bed-wetting can be the first sign of diabetes and the reason for bed-wetting.
- The same muscles are used to control urine and stool elimination. When constipation is long term, these muscles can become weak and contribute to bed-wetting at night.
- In rare cases, bed-wetting is related to a defect in the child's neurological system or urinary system.
- Children whose sleep is disrupted by snoring, television or pets, and children who are deep sleepers are more likely to wet the bed.
Treatments of child’s bed-wetting
Almost 15 percent of kids who wet the bed learn on their own to stay dry all through the night without any intervention. However, the longer the bedwetting happens, there are less chances to get better on its own. Few things which parents can try:
- Reduce any liquid intake before bed. Avoid caffeine as it makes kids to pee more frequent.
- Inculcate the habit in child to use the bathroom 15 minutes before bed and again while finally moving to bed.
- Ensure your child’s sufficient sleep. Remove all electronics and pets from your child’s bedroom.
- Avoid punishing your child for any such accidents as this can increase stress, feelings of shame and will encourage kids to hide their bed-wetting. Instead, take your child’s help in cleaning up as much as they are able help your child with their bed-wetting.
- Maintaining records of child’s dry nights can be helpful to motivate him/her. It is also helpful for you too as a parent to keep track of bedwetting to know whether it is getting better or worse.
- Waking your child before you go to bed to use the bathroom can be helpful. You may need to adjust to find the right time before they could wet their bed.
- Make your child feel good about progress by consistently rewarding dry nights.
- Increase liquid intake in the day time and reduce it in later part of the day.
- Don’t encourage child’s habit of having chocolate milk, cocoa, citrus juices, dyes and sweeteners etc. All these can irritate a child’s bladder, resulting in bed-wetting.
- Medication also works well in solving bed-wetting issue, but it has certain side effects. For example, desmopressin is a medicine which reduces urine production, but as a side-effect, it can cause headaches, nausea and severe water retention. Also, the day you stop the medication, the bedwetting might start again. Consult a pediatrician before using any medicine to cure your child’s bed-wetting.
- Bedwetting alarms are seen benefitting in child’s bed-wetting. It is clipped to your child’s under-pant or have a pad for your child to sleep on. When the clip or pad gets wet, the alarm produces sound or it vibrate, which teaches your child’s body to wake up when they need to empty their bladder. For all this, your child has to wet the bed repeatedly so their brain can learn to wake up to urinate. Research proved that, if done correctly, it is the most effective method of teaching your child to stay dry quite long.
Time when to consult a doctor
Medication works great for some children, but they often start wetting the bed again once the medications are stop. Medications may be a good idea to use strategically. Your doctor, during checkups, may ask you certain questions about your child, like their bathroom habits. Doctor may also check for problems in urinary tract and bladder. Doctor will try to analyze the things that are going at home and even at school for your child. Studies have shown that children who wet the bed are more likely to be emotionally upset than other children. Your doctor will ask about your family life, because successful treatment also depends on important changes made at home. Situations when to consult a doctor:
- If your child snores loudly or has pauses in breathing while sleeping.
- If child complains of a burning sensation when urinating.
- If your child’s drinking or eating habit is much more than usual.
- Child having swelling of the feet or ankles.
- If your child is facing any major stress.
- Bed-wetting is accompanied by painful urination, unusual thirst, pink or red urine or hard stools
Help your child with their bed-wetting
Children don't wet the bed to irritate anyone. They do it unintentionally. Be patient, as you and your child have to work together to solve this problem. Its treatment may require several strategies and time to be successful.
- Try to understand your child's feelings. If your child is stressed, encourage him or her to share those feelings with you. Be supportive and encouraging. For sure, when your child feels calm and secure, bed-wetting may become less problematic. Keep observations, if feel necessity, talk to a pediatrician about additional strategies to deal with bed-wetting.
- Try methods for easy cleanup. You can cover your child's mattress with a plastic cover. Avoid the long-term use of diapers.
- Take your child's help in cleaning process. Ask your child to rinse his or her wet underwear and pajamas, that too, only if the child is in appropriate age. Taking responsibility for bed-wetting may help your child feel more control over such embarrassing situation.
- Discourage siblings from teasing the child who has bed-wetting problem.
Bed-wetting doesn’t have any health risks. Still, it can create certain issues for your child. Bed-wetting can cause a guilt and embarrassment in your child which can further lead to low self-esteem. It can also force them to stay away from participating in several social activities like camps, sleepovers etc. Your child can be at a risks of developing rashes on genital area due to long hours sleep in wet underwear. With reassurance, support and understanding, your child can look forward to the dry nights ahead. In most children, stopping bedwetting is a matter of patience, motivation, and time. Almost every child who wet the bed stop eventually. Some even stop without treatment. So, very patiently help your child with their bed-wetting.
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Bed-wetting in a child is not a mental or behaviour problem. It is mostly related to genetic factors, hormonal factors, urinary tract infections, abnormal spinal cord etc. Many other factors that affect bed-wetting in child are, child’s gender; child’s mental development; child’s maturity and child’s physical-emotional health i.e. chronic illness related to emotional and physical abuse. Parents can use desmopressin (only if the doctor recommends) or bed-wetting alarms to help their child in solving this embarrassing problem.