Urinary Incontinence in Children

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Urinary incontinence in children facts

  • Urinary incontinence in children is very common.


  • Nighttime wetting (nocturnal enuresis) is more common than daytime wetting (diurnal enuresis).


  • Most urinary incontinence is nonorganic and resolves without intervention.


  • Persistent primary enuresis and secondary enuresis may require further medical evaluation.


  • Treatment for most cases of enuresis involves behavioral modification.


  • Bedwetting alarms are very effective.


  • Medications should be reserved for select children.


  • Less than 1% of all affected children have persistent incontinence into adulthood.

What is urinary incontinence?

Very simply stated, urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of complete control of the act of urination or the involuntary emptying of the bladder. It is also referred to as enuresis. It can be caused by any number of factors, and in young infants and toddlers, it is usually completely normal. In order to understand the different causes better, one must have some basic understanding of processes involved in urination

How does the urinary system work?

The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is produced by the kidneys and drains via the ureters to the bladder. The bladder serves as the storage tank, stowing the urine until emptied through micturition (urinating). The act of emptying the bladder requires significant coordination between the brain, nerves, and muscles. There are two major muscles involved in urination, the detrusor and the sphincter. The detrusor is a large muscle which contracts to squeeze urine out of the bladder, and the sphincter is a group of muscles which remains contracted to keep urine in the bladder. These two muscles must work in concert, one contracting while the other relaxes, to control the flow of urine. Dysfunction in either may result in some degree of loss of urinary control. The urethra serves as the canal which carries the urine from the bladder during voiding. Achieving bladder control must be learned, and some children learn earlier than others, and therefore urinary incontinence is normal in most young infants and children, but in older children and adolescents, it is not considered normal.


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Urinary Incontinence in Children - Nighttime Question: Please discuss your child's symptoms of and experience with nighttime incontinence.
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Urinary Incontinence in Children - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, therapy, or medication did your child have for his/her urinary incontinence?
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Urinary Incontinence in Children

Should I take my child to the doctor?

If your child is younger than 5, don't worry about bedwetting. Many children do not stay dry at night until age 7. Most children outgrow wetting the bed. A single episode of bedwetting should not cause alarm, even in an older child.

If your child is 7 years old or older and wets the bed more than two or three times in a week, a doctor may be able to help. If both day and night wetting occur after age 5, your child should see a doctor before age 7.

SOURCE: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse


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