Frequent bed wetting in children older than the age of 5 is known as nocturnal enuresis and is a common problem. As many as one in 10 children over the age of 5 experience bed wetting but this reduces to one in 20 at the age of 10. In around 1%, bed wetting can persist into the teenage years and beyond, when it is a major source of embarrassment that can severely restrict social activities.
What causes bed wetting?
The exact cause of bed wetting is not always known. Some children are not dry at night as they have not yet learned to control their bladder during sleep. This is described as primary enuresis and is usually due to immaturity of the bladder. Bed wetting can also reoccur in a child who was previously dry during the night (secondary enuresis), sometimes as a result of a life change causing feelings of insecurity such as a new sibling, moving house, or problems at home or school. Often though, there is no obvious cause.
Bed wetting solutions to consider
Bed wetting solutions in younger children are not usually discussed in detail because bed wetting under the age of 5 is considered to be generally normal. In children over the age of 5, your GP may be able to help, or may choose to refer you to a specialist doctor or enuresis clinic, where specialist nurses can work with you to find bed wetting solutions. These are available within the NHS and in the private healthcare sector.
In the first instance, blood and urine tests may be taken to rule out any illness or infection. Specific bed wetting solutions are usually centred on motivating and encouraging children with reward charts and stickers to give them a visual reminder of their progress. If the problem continues, follow up bed wetting solutions then involve training your child to wake when they have a full bladder. You can get an alarm that detects dampness and wakes your child before their bladder is fully empty. The alarm may be in the form of a pad on the bed or it can be worn on the body. The aim is to train your child to learn to wake up when their bladder is full without the need for the alarm.
Medical treatment for bed wetting
In very persistent cases, drugs can be used as bed wetting solutions. A drug called desmopressin can be used. This is a naturally occurring hormone that acts to reduce the amount of urine produced overnight. Antidepressant drugs are occasionally used, but how they work as bed wetting solutions is not clear. In both cases, the problem is likely to return when the drug treatment is stopped, so alarm training may still be needed. Unless there are anatomical abnormalities, surgical procedures are neither required nor effective as bed wetting solutions.
Private healthcare and urology
As well as helping a child and their family overcome bed wetting, private healthcare is also available to treat several other urological conditions including a tight foreskin, which may require circumcision, undecided testes, urinary tract stones and bladder exstrophy – a congenital abnormality that causes part of the bladder to be formed outside the body.