Bedwetting | Nocturnal Enuresis | Wetting the Bed


Bedwetting Overview

Bedwetting refers to the passage of urine during sleep, whether in the clothing during the day or in bed at night. Nocturnal enuresis is the medical term for bedwetting.

For infants and young children, urination is involuntary, meaning they have no control over it.

Bedwetting is normal for them. Children wet the bed occasionally or even night during the potty-training years.

In others words, bedwetting is normal for children while sleeping during that learning process. In fact, it is estimated that seven million children in the United States wet their beds on a regular basis.

Controlling bladder function during sleep is usually the last stage of potty training. Most children achieve some degree of bladder control by age 4 years. Daytime control is usually first; nighttime control comes later.

If a child continues bedwetting more than twice a month after age 5 or 6, it is considered to be a problem. Most doctors consider a bedwetting child to be any girl older than age four and any boy over age five who wet the bed.

Bedwetting generally declines with age.About 10% of all six year olds and about 3% of all 14 year olds wet the bed.In a very small number of cases, bedwetting can continue into adulthood.

Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is considered to be primary if the child has never been dry at night or only is occasionally dry at night. Secondary nocturnal enuresis refers to bedwetting episodes that occur after a child has been dry at night for a considerable length of time.

We have all gone through bed wetting at some point in our lives.When a baby’s bladder fills to a certain point, the bladder muscles contract, and the baby urinates. Over time, the young child’s nervous system matures.

The feedback circuits between the brain and the bladder enable the child to realize when his or her bladder is full. The child becomes physically able to delay urination until he or she decides that it is the appropriate time and place to void.

Different children develop the neurological and emotional capacity to control their bladders at different ages. In many cases, children learn to control their bladders during the day before they master nighttime dryness.

Occasional episodes of daytime or nighttime bladder accidents after five may be a normal part of growing up. However, if a child continues to have regular trouble controlling his bladder after age five, he meets the criteria for enuresis.

Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) usually does not occur while the child is dreaming. It is more likely to happen during the deeper phases of sleep.

Primary Nocturnal Enuresis

Primary nocturnal enuresis refers to bedwetting in a person who has never been dry for at least 6 months. When the problem continues into the school years, appropriate intervention can usually correct the problem.

Most children who wet the bed have primary enuresis. The child will never have night time control. They always wet the bed at least two times a month. Psychiatric or emotional problems are not the cause. It can cause due to bladder muscle differences, having small bladder, making too much urine, and sleeping deeply to wake up when the bladder is full.

Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis

Secondary nocturnal enuresis refers to wetting the bed that begins after at least 6 months of dryness. Children who have been dry at night for a considerable period of time may have occasional episodes of bedwetting.

The key to secondary enuresis is to find out what has changed in the child’s life. There can be new stress like a family death, a new sibling, or a divorce. A new medical problem like urinary tract infection can also be the cause.

Three of the more common events likely to cause bedwetting in young children are: hospitalization, entering school and the birth of a sibling. If the bed-wetting symptoms persist, you should consult your child's doctor because the cause may be a physical problem, which may require bedwetting diagnosis and bedwetting treatment.

  • Nocturnal enuresis refers to wetting that usually occurs during sleep (nighttime incontinence).
  • Diurnal enuresis refers to wetting when awake (daytime incontinence).

Bedwetting in older children may simply be a result of immaturity. The age at which children become able to control their bladders during sleep is variable. Bladder control is a complex process that involves coordinated action of the muscles, nerves, spinal cord and brain.

In this case of bedwetting, the problem will resolve in time. On the other hand, it may be an indication of an underlying medical condition, such as obstruction of the urinary tract. If bedwetting persists beyond the age of 6 or 7, you should consult your pediatrician.

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