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Parenting

Bedwetting Causes and Coping Tips

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Most children will go through a bedwetting stage and though some kids get through it rather quickly, others take longer before they have consistently dry nights.

Bedwetting can also be a symptom of an underlying disease, but not typically. In fact, an underlying condition is identified in only about 1% of children who routinely wet the bed.

Bedwetting is not only difficult for the child, but it can strain a parent’s patience as well. It’s important to remember that a child that wets the bed doesn’t do it intentionally. Children who wet are not lazy, willful, or disobedient. Bedwetting is most often a developmental issue.

Did you know that there are 2 types of bedwetting? They are called primary and secondary. A child with primary bedwetting has episodes of bedwetting on a consistent basis. 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.

So, what causes primary bedwetting? It’s usually a combination of factors:

  • 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 habitually ignores 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.

Secondary bedwetting may occur because of an underlying or known medical condition or emotional problems. The child with secondary bedwetting is much more likely to have other symptoms, such as daytime wetting.  Reasons for secondary bedwetting can include:

  • Urinary tract infection: The resulting bladder irritation can cause severe pain or irritation with urination, a stronger urge to urinate, and frequent urination. 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.

If your child suddenly begins to wet the bed after months or years of dry nights, talk to your child about it and your pediatrician. Your doctor may want to do an examination and bloodwork to rule out any health conditions. 

Most children do not stay dry at night until about the age of three.  And it's usually not a concern for parents until around age 6.

Bedwetting can be embarrassing for children. Be supportive and reassure your child that they won’t always wet the bed. Bedwetting often runs in families. If you want to share your own personal story, your child may see that people do outgrow it.

To help your child make it through the night dry, make sure he or she isn’t drinking a lot of liquids before bedtime. Make using the bathroom just before they get in bed part of a bedtime routine. Also remind them that it's OK to get up during the night to use the bathroom. Nightlights can help your child find his or her own way when they need to go.

Some parents wonder if they should wake their child up during the night to go. That’s a personal choice, however, keep in mind that if you deprive your child of rest and sleep, you may increase his or her level of stress. Stress can be a bedwetting trigger. Some children may also have a difficult time getting back to sleep once woken.

If your child wets the bed, you might consider getting a plastic bed cover to help protect the mattress.

If accidents do happen, try these tips to remove the smell and stains from linens, clothes and the mattress.

  • Try adding a half-cup to a cup of white vinegar to your wash to remove the smell from their sheets and clothes.
  • If you need to clean urine from a mattress, first use towels to blot up as much as you can.
  • Once you've blotted up as much of the urine as you can, saturate the entire area of urine stain with hydrogen peroxide. Let it stand for 5 minutes, and then use towels again to blot the area dry.
  • Once the mattress is dry, sprinkle baking soda over the entire area and let it stand for 24 hours. The next day, vacuum the baking soda away. It should be clean and odor free.

Bedwetting is one of those stages that kids go through that some day will just be a memory. Until then, reassure your little one that this too shall pass. Praise your child when they make it through the night without wetting the bed and let them know that if an accident happens, it’s OK – we’ll try again tonight.

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/bedwetting-causes#2

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/ss/slideshow-bedwetting

 

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