Picture this scene: It’s spring break and the family is about to embark on a much-needed family vacation. For weeks, everyone has been excited with anticipation to sail away on a Disney Cruise ship. But on the morning you are scheduled to leave, your 8-year-old son wakes up with a frown on his face and his cheeks wet with streaked tears. What could be wrong? Sheets and pajamas are wet but not with sweat. Yes, once again, he has wet the bed. For those parents who have a child that wakes up with urine-laden sheets and clothing, we have tips to help a bedwetter.
Bedwetting: Not a Sign of Poor Toilet Training
Many people are under the false impression that when a child wets his or her bed it is a sign of poor potty training. Or they might think the child is lazy. Both are myths. If occurring when the child is younger than seven, bedwetting (also known as nocturnal enuresis or nighttime incontinence) is frequently nothing more than normal childhood development. For the most part, the last step in complete toilet training is overnight dryness. In addition, it is a fairly common occurrence with over 5 million children in the United States being affected. After the age of seven, there might be cause for concern if bedwetting occurs more than twice a month. In these instances, your child might have developed a bladder control problem.
Bedwetting can be categorized into two different types: primary and secondary. With primary bedwetting, the child has never—or at least not on a regular basis—had a dry bed overnight. The cause is high production of urine at night without the child experiencing a brain signal alert that his or her bladder is full. On the other hand, secondary bedwetting occurs after the child has been dry overnight for 6 months. In this case, the underlying reason can be physical, emotional or evolve due to a change in sleep pattern.
Although bedwetting might seem like the end of the world and cause much anguish in a household, truth be told, most children outgrow involuntary urination when they sleep. If not, it is best to see a physician as there might be an underlying medical cause. Some of the indications that it is time to make that appointment are the following:
- Painful urination, snoring, excessive thirst and pink urine accompany bedwetting, which can mean that your child has a urinary tract infection, sleep apnea, or diabetes, to name a few.
- After being dry overnight for some time, bedwetting begins again.
- Child is still wetting the bed after age 7.
Studies have shown that there is actually a genetic predisposition to bedwetting as it tends to run in families. In fact, three out of four children who wet their bed have a first-degree relative that was a bedwetter. Chromosomes 8, 12 and 13 have been identified as culprits.
Tips to Help Stop Bedwetting
First and foremost, you need to be patient and give your child understanding so that he or she does not develop any emotional baggage or lose self-esteem from bedwetting. Make sure to let them know that bedwetting is common and they are not alone. Helpful is to follow a practice of positive reinforcement by rewarding your child for dry nights.
Here are some additional tips to help your bedwetter:
Keep a journal: It is helpful to keep track of your child’s urination habits during the day and night. It is a good idea to include both food and fluid intake, and timing for each. Also keep track of sleep habits, i.e. time to bed and rise.
Bladder training: Try to get your child into a set schedule to visit the bathroom, day and night. Or at the very least, your child should visit the bathroom as soon as he or she gets the urge to urinate. It is important to encourage them to not go for long stretches of time holding urine. Your child can also learn stretching exercises that can assist in training the bladder to hold more urine.
Do not restrict fluid intake to excess but rather you can limit beverages a few hours before going to sleep. And lastly, have your child empty his or her bladder right before bedtime.
Moisture alarms: You can opt to use an alarm that will wake your child (or even yourself) when urination starts in the middle of the night. The alarm is meant to trigger the child to awaken and head over to use the bathroom. Successful alarm training to help lessen and stop bedwetting does not happen overnight. Actually, it can take several months and is proven to be 75 percent effective when used consistently.
Medication: Your doctor might prescribe a mediation to help treat your child’s bedwetting. There are several options that have been successful. First, there is desmopressiomn (DDAVP) that works by decreasing urine production at night and can be used on a short-term or long-term basis. The other drug that is routinely prescribed is imipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant) but with its effective use to combat bedwetting comes side effects. Hence, imipramine is prescribed as a last resort when most other treatment options have failed.
If you have sleep disorder and would like to learn more about available treatment options, we can help. Please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.