Skip to Content

Nocturnal Enuresis

What is nocturnal enuresis?

Nocturnal enuresis is a condition that causes your child to wet the 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 nocturnal enuresis?

The exact cause of your child's nocturnal enuresis may not be known. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about the following causes of nocturnal enuresis:

  • 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 nocturnal enuresis?

  • Drinking a lot of liquid before bed

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

  • Family history of nocturnal enuresis

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Increased stress, such as fear of the dark or parents who are divorcing

How is nocturnal enuresis diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver 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 caregiver will ask if your child wets himself during the day. He will check your child's leg movement and feeling. Your child may need any of the following:

  • A urine sample may be collected to check for infection or dehydration.

  • A blood test may be done to check organ function and sugar levels.

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

How is nocturnal enuresis 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. Caregivers may teach your child exercises to help strengthen his pelvic floor muscles. Your child's pelvic floor is the area between his pelvic (hip) bones. The exercises will help improve his bladder control.

  • Medicines can 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 nocturnal enuresis?

  • 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 caregiver?

  • 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.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child's face, lips, tongue, or throat swell.

  • Your child seems confused, sleepy, or hard to wake during the day.

  • Your child suddenly gets a headache, has an upset stomach, and vomits.

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.

Learn more about Nocturnal Enuresis