What Is Bedwetting and When Is It a Cause for Concern?

Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is the involuntary passing of urine while asleep and is one of the most common child related health issues. Before getting worried and concerned about a child’s inability to control their bladder, it is important to understand that most bedwetting is nothing but a developmental delay.

The rule of thumb regarding bedwetting is that girls manage to stay dry through the night by age 6 and boys do the same by age 7 and the phenomenon is more common among boys than girls overall.

While some children achieve night time dryness at an early age, being able to get up from sleep to indicate that they have to go, others take longer to do so.

As many as 90 to 95% of children who wet their beds, are simply experiencing a developmental delay and probably the only points of concern here for parents are the practical aspects of bedwetting and the possible psychological impact it may have on the child’s self esteem.

What causes the developmental delay?

There are two aspects to the physical readiness of a child so that he or she can stay dry through the night – one is the ability to wake up from sleep at the sensation of a full bladder and the other is an insufficiency of production of an anti diuretic hormone that reduces the amount of urine produced during sleep time.

There are also hereditary factors involved in bedwetting, with some children showing a predisposition to it if either or both parents were known to take time to achieve night time bladder control as well.

What other reasons for bedwetting need to be ruled out?

Though most cases of bed wetting are simply a delay in development there are other reasons for this – Kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder), or those who have chronic constipation are more likely to wet their bed.

Certain medications or infections may also be responsible for bedwetting, particularly the kind that follows a spell of dryness. Alcohol and caffeine consumption are also responsible for increase in urine production since they act as diuretics.

Children with certain handicaps may display bedwetting tendencies. Also children with psychological issues or stress (caused by bullying, abuse, a life altering event) may continue to or may lapse once again into bedwetting.

Physical problems such as smaller than normal bladder, malformation of the urinary tract, or even problems such as sleep apnea, enlarged tonsils or adenoids may cause bedwetting.

So it is important not to rush to worry about the very fact of bedwetting – explore and eliminate possible causes and then contemplate the best way to manage or resolve the situation.


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