Who's affected?

Most children are dry at night by the age of three and in medical terms bed-wetting at night, called nocturnal enuresis, is not considered to be a problem unless it continues after the age of five years.

With millions of people suffering, it's more common than people think. One in six five-year-olds, one in 20 ten-year olds, and one in a hundred adults wet the bed at night.

Lifestyle tips for a dry night

  • drink at least six drinks during the day
  • avoid caffeine
  • regular daytime peeing - double peeing before bed
  • ensure child can get to toilet at night
  • praise - don't punish

Why does it happen?

It's not entirely clear why it occurs because sufferers are physically normal and don't have specific medical problems causing them to wet the bed. Many people used to believe that it was a deliberate act to attract attention - but this isn't the case.

Research suggests that there's a mismatch between the balance of night-time urine production and the capacity of the bladder to hold it. The problem runs in families and often one or both parents used to wet the bed too. Boys are more likely to suffer than girls, while men and women are equally likely to wet the bed.

Usually there's no specific reason for wetting the bed but conditions such as diabetes, urine infection and developmental problems should be excluded.

How does it affect people?

Wetting the bed makes people feel dirty, ashamed and guilty. Parents often feel that it's their fault, and that they haven't raised their child well enough. This isn't true.

Family tension is common. Sufferers are punished and parents feel guilty for doing this, marriages break up under the pressure of disturbed nights, and the continual excess laundry that needs to be done is estimated to cost a family more than £1,000 a year.

What can be done about it?

Since there's usually no underlying cause the best way to prevent further problems is to support and not punish a child who wets the bed, to reassure everyone involved that it's no one's fault - and to praise dry nights.

The problem is often highlighted at a time of crisis, for example, when the child is to stay at a friend's home or go on a school camping trip. Parent and child are in a state of panic when they come to the doctor for help because they don't want their secret discovered. On many occasions the child will not go on these trips because not going is the less traumatic option.

Although many people eventually grow out of the problem, they suffer until this time. Research shows that people with nocturnal enuresis avoid forming relationships, getting jobs, travelling, and suffer low self-esteem and even depression

Lifestyle changes

Once the problem has been aired and other possible underlying causes, such as urine infection and diabetes, have been excluded, there are a number of things that a doctor, school nurse, or nurse at an enuresis clinic can help with.

Avoiding caffeinated drinks; drinking enough liquid during the day and not just once home from school (many children hardly drink at all during the day then drink lots once they get home from school); and going to pass urine twice just before going to bed - go once, then a second time five or ten minutes later; these simple lifestyle changes work well.

Waterproof mattress covers help to protect the bed and cut down the costs. They're available from ERIC.

Enuresis alarms

Enuresis alarms work well for some people. The whole family needs to be motivated to use them. The alarm buzzer is triggered to sound when urine comes into contact with a pad placed under the bed-sheets to which the alarm is connected. They work by training the bladder and teaching the child to get up and go to the toilet. If a child is sharing a room, a silent vibrating alarm can be used instead. They can be purchased from ERIC or borrowed from a local enuresis clinic.

Medicines also work well for many people. Desmopressin, which is used often, works by preventing the production of urine overnight. It's prescribed by the doctor and taken either as a tablet or a nasal spray.

 
 
 
 
By Dr_Rob-Hicks 01/29/2016 10:18:00

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