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What is bedwetting?

Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is a condition that causes your child to urinate in his bed while he sleeps. The condition occurs in children who are 5 years or older. Your child may wet his bed at least 2 times each week. He may never have had a dry night. He may have dry nights for at least 6 months and then begin to wet the bed again.

What causes bedwetting?

The exact cause of your child's bedwetting may not be known. Any of the following can cause bedwetting:

  • A small bladder

  • Bladder tightening before the bladder is full, causing leakage

  • Large amounts of urine made while your child sleeps

  • Deep sleep that keeps your child from waking to the feeling of a full bladder

What increases my child's risk for bedwetting?

  • Drinking a lot of liquid before bed

  • A medical condition such as constipation or a urinary tract infection (UTI)

  • Family history of bedwetting

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Increased stress such as moving to a new home or the birth of a new sibling

How is bedwetting diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask when your child started to wet the bed and how often it happens. He will check your child's abdomen, spine, and genitals. Your child's healthcare provider will ask if your child wets himself during the day. Your child may need any of the following:

  • A urine test may show infection or dehydration.

  • A blood test may show organ function and sugar levels.

  • An ultrasound or cystoscopy may be needed to look at your child's urinary tract. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about these tests.

How is bedwetting treated?

  • A bedwetting alarm can be used to wake your child if he begins to urinate during the night. Use the alarm for at least 2 months, or until your child is dry for 14 nights in a row.

  • Pelvic muscle exercises are used to help strengthen pelvic muscles. The exercises will help improve his bladder control.

  • Medicines may help your child's bladder hold more urine, or decrease the amount of urine his body makes at night.

How can I help manage my child's bedwetting?

  • Give your child a reward for each dry night. If your child is old enough, have him help you change his sheets. Never punish or shame your child for wetting the bed.

  • Remind your child to urinate every 2 hours , or at least 3 times during the school day. He should also urinate right before he goes to bed each night. Encourage him to have a bowel movement every day.

  • Limit the amount of liquid your child drinks in the late afternoon and evening.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has stomach cramps, no appetite, or a bad taste in his mouth.

  • Your child is not sleeping as well as usual.

  • Your child seems depressed or angers easily.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.