Bed wetting is really common. It affects up to 20% of 8 years and 1% of 17 years old.
Bed wetting (nocturia) can be a real challenge in any child and impacts both the child and their entire family.
Here is some valuable information for parents from our specialist contributors at London Children Surgery.
When will my child grow out of it?
Most children do improve. However, it can take them a very long time. The length of time required to be cured is related to the length of time with the symptoms and the failure of previous medical therapy.
The child can finding ‘waiting’ to grow out of the condition very frustrating and disempowering.
Why is this still happening?
Again, bed wetting is really common. In a class of 30 children who are 8 years old, 6 children will continue to have wet nights.
Bedwetting is due to a combination of factors:
- excess urine production at night
- smaller bladder capacity
- sleep disturbance
40% of children with bed wetting have a strong family history with a parent having had a similar history as a child.
Is surgery required?
No, most children do not require surgery.
However a very small number of children have a structural problem which requires investigation for better understanding and management. Surgery for this condition is very uncommon.
How can we fix this?
Rarely in life is there a quick fix for anything and the same applies to bed wetting.
Most children require time. Consultation with a specialist can help them get on the right path.
Once they are ‘fixed’ they are cured forever.
What treatments are available?
Thinking about the causes, some contributing factors can be improved:
- Excess urine production at night: Behavioural changes to drinking and voiding (passing urine) can reduce the bladder load at night. Sometimes, medications can be useful.
- Sleep disturbance: Many changes can be made to improve sleep patterns and toilet habits around sleep
- Small capacity bladder: Rarely, this is a cause of night time wetting. Investigations by a specialist can help explain the underlying cause.
What medications can be used?
Our policy is to try and avoid medication and most children not need medication. However medication can be useful. A specialist (paediatrician, paediatric surgeon/ urologist) should be consulted first if you are considering medications for this condition.
What can I do to support my child at home?
- Daytime voiding pattern: Many children have undiagnosed major daytime issues that are often unknown to family and parents. Ensure your child is voiding every 2-3 hours during the day. It is important to establish regular daytime voiding as part of your child’s routine. Alarms, vibrating watches etc, can be useful aids.
- Drinking: Lots of children don’t drink enough fluid in the day and fluid restriction is not the way to go. However, consider the timing of the last drink before bed. Encourage your child to drink plenty , up till an hour before bed. Your child should drink mostly water. Fluids that irritate the bladder include caffeine and fizzy drinks.
- ‘Lifting’ is placing your child on the toilet to void in the middle of the night. This activity does stop the bed getting wet. However unless the child is awake it rarely improves the situation in the long-term.
- Alarms: Bedwetting alarms can function very well in some children and are a very useful treatment modality in primary care.