(Nocturnal Enuresis)

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Bedwetting facts

  • Bedwetting is also medically termed nocturnal enuresis.
  • There are two types of bedwetting: primary and secondary.
  • Primary bedwetting is bedwetting since infancy.
  • Primary bedwetting is due to a delay in the maturing of the nervous system.
  • Primary bedwetting is an inability to recognize messages sent by the bladder to the sleeping brain.
  • The "cure" for primary bedwetting is "tincture (or passage) of time."
  • There are a number of interventions, including medical and behavioral options.
  • Secondary bedwetting is wetting after being dry for at least six months.
  • Secondary bedwetting is due to urine infections, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
  • All bedwetting is manageable.
  • Always speak to a child's physician for guidance.

What is bedwetting?

Reader Stories

Bedwetting is the involuntary passage of urine (urinary incontinence) while asleep. Inherent in the definition of bedwetting is satisfactory bladder control while the person is awake. Therefore, urination while awake is a different condition and has a variety of different causes than bedwetting.

Bedwetting is medically termed nocturnal enuresis.

What are the types of bedwetting?

There are two types of bedwetting:

  1. Primary enuresis: bedwetting since infancy
  2. Secondary enuresis: wetting developed after being continually dry for a minimum of six months

What is primary bedwetting?

Primary bedwetting is viewed as a delay in maturation of the nervous system. At 5 years of age, approximately 16% of children wet the bed at least once a month. Males are twice as likely as females to wet the bed. By 6 years of age, only about 10% of children are bedwetters -- the large majority being boys. The percentage of all children who are bedwetters continues to diminish by 50% each year after 5 years of age. The primary risk factor for developing primary bedwetting is having a parent who also had bedwetting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/21/2015

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Bedwetting - Treatments for Children Question: Bedwetting is frustrating and embarrassing. How was your child's enuresis treated?
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Bedwetting - Causes in Children Question: If known, what was the cause of your child's bedwetting?
Bedwetting - Treatments for Adults Question: Do you or an adult relative have bedwetting issues? What kinds of treatments have been effective?

Bedwetting Treatment

The treatment of urinary incontinence depends upon the underlying cause of the problem. The primary treatment for nocturnal enuresis most commonly involves behavioral modification. This involves positive reinforcement, encouraging frequent daytime voiding, and periodically waking the child at night, restricting fluid intake prior to bed, and alarm therapy with devices that wake the child when the underwear or bedclothes have become wet.