bed wetting

Children who wet the bed do not do it on purpose; it is neither their fault, nor the parents. Bed wetting is not uncommon, and it is a stage in your child’s development that they will outgrow.

No one knows the exact causes of bed wetting, but there are various factors which can play a central role. Children can experience two stages of nocturnal enuresis, namely primary and secondary. Both these stages have different causes and treatments.

Four most common bed wetting causes

  • Small bladder – your child’s bladder may not have developed enough to hold urine for the entire night.
  • Inability to recognise full bladder signals – your child does not wake up when their bladder is full.
  • Hormone imbalance – In some cases kids don’t produce enough anti-diuretic, which is meant to slow night time urine production.
  • Poor daytime habits - Many children habitually ignore the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can.

Ever noticed any of these behaviours? 

  • Leg crossing
  • Face straining
  • Squirming
  • Groin holding
  • Squatting

These are usually in response to the child holding back urine.

Could genetics be a cause of bed wetting?

Bed wetting does tend to run in families, many children who wet the bed are highly likely to have either one or both of their parents who did too. In this case, children will usually stop bed wetting at roughly the same ages as the parent/s did.

If you experienced bed wetting as a child, it might help your child to know that you went through the same thing in your childhood. Your child may take comfort in the knowledge that this is a normal part of growing up, and encourage them to speak freely to you about it rather than feeling ashamed and alone.

The not so common causes

Secondary nocturnal enuresis usually occurs later in life and can be a sign of underlying medical or emotional problems. Children who experience secondary bed wetting will more likely have other symptoms, such as daytime wetting.

A few medical reasons why secondary bed wetting may be prevalent are: 

  • Urinary tract infection – can make it difficult to control urination. Signs may include day time accidents, bed wetting, frequent urge to urinate, bloody urine or pain during urination.
  • Sleep apnoea – a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep – usually because of inflamed or enlarged tonsils. Other noticeable symptoms of sleep apnoea may include: Snoring, ear and sinus infections, sore throat and daytime drowsiness. 
  • Diabetes – for someone who usually has dry nights, bed wetting may be a sign of diabetes. Other symptoms of Diabetes may include: Passing large amounts of urine, increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss despite a healthy appetite.
  • Chronic constipation – lack of regular bowel movements.
  • Stress – causes of psychological stress for children include but are not limited to: Birth of a sibling, hospitalisation, starting school, relationship difficulties and bullying.
  • Structural problems in the urinary tract or nervous system

In secondary nocturnal enuresis cases, we advise parents to seek medical advice and treatment options.

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