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Bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis)

bed wetting
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Bed wetting

Urinary structure and function

Urinary tract pictureThe urinary system is divided into upper and lower sections. The function of the urinary system is to remove waste products from the body, regulate water and salt balance, and to store and transport urine.

For more information, see Urinary Tract.

Bed wetting

Bed wetting imageBed wetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is defined as intermittent episodes of wetting the bed while asleep in children who are over 5 years of age.

For more information, see Bed Wetting (Nocturnal Enuresis)

Treating bed wetting

Alarm therapy

Bed wetting image
There are several options available for treatment of bed wetting. The use of a bed wetting alarm is generally the first step for families who are motivated and have time to dedicate to using an alarm.

For more information, see Alarm for bed wetting.


Desmopressin therapy

Bed wetting image
Desmopressin is generally considered to be the next step for children who have not responded to alarm therapy, who are not likely to comply with alarm therapy or where a rapid result is required.


Causes of bedwetting

 bedwetting videoBedwetting is caused by a range of physical factors that children cannot control. They include difficulty waking up, a bladder which can only hold small amounts of urine and production of too much urine. Paediatrician Dr Mark Gibbeson discusses the causes of bedwetting.

View the video.

Causes of bedwetting- difficulty rousing from sleep

 bedwetting videoChildren may wet the bed because their brain does not wake up in response to signals from the bladder that it is full and needs to be emptied. This video shows how the bladder and brain communicate, and what goes wrong when children have difficulty rousing.

View the video.

Causes of bedwetting- overactive or twitchy bladder

 bedwetting videoAn overactive bladder is one which gets twitchy when it holds a small amount of urine, and contract spontaneously to release urine before the bladder is full. Watch the video to see how an overactive bladder can cause children to wet the bed.

View the video.

Causes of bedwetting- overproduction of urine

 bedwetting videoOverproduction of urine occurs in children who do not produce enough vasopressin, a natural hormone which reduces urine production at night. See how the brain increases its production of vasopressin at night to prevent bed wetting in this video.

View the video.

Bed wetting treatments

 bedwetting videoBed wetting treatment starts with adjusting a child’s diet and drinking patterns. If these measures are ineffective, an alarm which sounds to wake the child when they wet, or a medicine which reduces the amount of urine the child produces at night can be used. In this video Paediatrician Dr Mark Gibbeson discusses options for treating bedwetting in children.

View the video.


My dryness tracker


A free app for individuals being treated for bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis), or who plan to see a doctor about the condition. Features a bedwetting checklist, day-time and night-time voiding diaries, alarm therapy progress tracker, desmopressin progress tracker (restricted access), WetAlert® enuresis alarm ordering facility and treatment progress reports. Available from the App Store and Google play for use on smartphone and tablet.



Living with bed wetting

Toilet training (potty training)

Toilet training
is an important developmental milestone and can be a challenging step for both parents and toddlers. A child is considered fully toilet trained when they are conscious of the fact that they need to pass urine or open their bowels and can take themselves to the toilet without reminders from their parents.

For more information, see Toilet Training (Potty Training).

Preventing bed wetting

 Preventing bed wetting imageThe exact mechanism behind bed wetting is poorly understood making prevention of this disorder difficult to study. Bed wetting is a complex phenomenon that results from the interaction of several factors which may include underlying medical conditions, genetics, developmental and psychosocial factors.

For more information, see Preventing Bed Wetting.

The impact of bed wetting

 The impact of bed wetting imageBed wetting carries a significant burden for both the affected child and their family. Children who wet their bed have lower self-esteem, restrictions on social activities and are at risk of physical and emotional abuse. Adult bed wetters have higher rates of depression, lower self-esteem and the condition has a significant impact on education and career choices.

For more information, see Impact of Bed Wetting.

Stephen recalls his bed wetting days

 Stephen recalls his bed wetting days imageBed wetting is very treatable and there is help at hand. We spoke to Stephen about his experience growing up with bed wetting and how he eventually managed to overcome it.

For more information, see Nocturnal Enuresis: Stephen recalls his bed wetting days.

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Posted On: 20 March, 2012
Modified On: 29 May, 2018


Created by: myVMC