Bedwetting is an embarrassing issue for a school-going child as well as his parents. The involuntary action, though not uncommon, is an agony for children past their childhood. Here is a deeper insight into the causes for bedwetting along with solutions to help your child stop wetting the bed.
Known as enuresis in medical annals, bedwetting is defined as the involuntary urination by children aged 5 years or more when they are asleep. A child may wet the bed anytime during his sleep. The action may occur daily or sporadically in a week.
Urination on the bed is common for a newborn, as they are unable to move. Many preschoolers wet their bed more often at night. A child stops daytime wetting when he turns 3 years and night wetting when he reaches the age of 5 years. Most children grow out of it and stop wetting their bed.
Prevalence of Bedwetting
About 15% of US children continue to wet their bed at the age of 6 years. By the time they turn 10 years, less than 8% carry forward the habit. Boys are more prone to bedwetting than girls. At 14, about 4% continue to do so. It is so common in preschoolers that many parents remain unconcerned about it. However, such action becomes a cause for concern after the child starts going to school.
Causes of Bedwetting
In 90% cases, wetting the bed is not due to any anatomical or psychological problem. Healthy and normal children also suffer from the “uncontrollable” habit for the inability of the appropriate reflex system. When the bladder becomes full, it sends a signal to the brain urging urination. However, the subconscious reflex system fails to read it properly. Pressure leads to changes in the muscle closing the bladder and the urine flows out.
- Bedwetting is involuntary in most children. They don’t have the control and often fail to wake up in time. The urine comes out on its own when the bladder becomes full.
- Research indicates that 97% of bedwetting is due to an unusual deep sleep. This suppresses the subconscious reflex system, reducing its ability to respond.
- Medical reasons, such as the higher amount of urination, can cause children to wet the bed at night.
- Genetic factor also contributes to the act. A child is more prone to it if his siblings had a similar history or parents frequently go to the bathroom at night.
- Stress also contributes to the problem. This is more apparent when a child is sleeping in a strange place.
- Eating or drinking sugary foods too plays a role.
Should I Worry About Bedwetting?
The habit is considered normal until an acceptable age. However, if a child continues to wet their bed, it could be a cause for concern for parents as well as the child. There is no definite medical problem associated with it. It may be a medical concern when bedwetting restarts suddenly.
You should be worried over bedwetting if your school-age child
- Continues to wet the bed during the day
- Restarts after a few days of respite
- Is subject emotional distress due to bedwetting
The urinary tract infection is a known cause, and there is also a high risk of diabetes mellitus. Failure of proper reflex system development cannot be ruled out. Consult a pediatric expert to rule out any medical problems. It is also found that bedwetting children also respond to pediatric input better than that of parents.
Tips for Parents To Help Child Stop Bedwetting
- Urinary bed alarm detects moisture and alerts the child about the need to go to the bathroom. A study in the Journal of Paediatric Child Health claims 79% reduction in bedwetting in 10 weeks when the device was used. More than 73% continue to avoid wetting the bed even after six months.
- Admiration and reward for every dry night also work. Anything the child likes or loves to have can be used as a reward. This motivates the child and forces him to avoid wetting the bed. This works well when laziness or inattentiveness causes the problem to persist.
- Increasing awareness of the child is also helpful. Ask your child to go to the bathroom just before going to bed. Wake him up in the night and take him to the bathroom at least once. This helps a child stop bedwetting at night. Such practice also allows the subconscious reflex to improve response to the urge of urination.
- Change in the fluid intake is a tried and tested method to help a child stop wetting the bed. Ensure that your child has less fluid intake after the evening. Increase the intake in the morning hours while restricting it at night.
- Bladder training is a useful method for children above 5 years. This improves their ability to control urination and withstand the pressure for more time. You may use a gradual procedure to train the child over a long period of time.
- Behavioral intervention has a good chance of success in helping a child stop wetting the bed. It is found that psychotherapy and behavioral treatment improve the continence mechanism and reflexive action. It also ensures the child does not lose self-confidence due to embarrassment.
Don’ts for Parents
- Medicines are only the last resort. There is no guarantee that your child stops wetting the bed once and for all after taking medication. There is also a risk of side effects, as medication makes changes in the body chemicals.
- Avoid using punishment, as bedwetting is an involuntary action. Parenting mistakes can only worsen it. An already embarrassed child will feel the lack of support to overcome the problem. He may feel alienated. Stress and anxiety may worsen the problem. Learn to cope with it until the child grows out of it.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com
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