Bed-wetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is when the bladder empties while a child is asleep. This can happen every so often, or every night.
Bed-wetting is common. About one in every five children in Australia wets the bed. Bed-wetting can run in families and is more common in boys than girls before the age of nine years. It can be upsetting for the child and stressful for the whole family. The good news is that you can get help.
Wetting the bed is caused by a mix of three things:
Children who wet the bed are not lazy or being naughty. Some illnesses are linked with bed-wetting, but most children who wet the bed do not have major health problems.
Day-time control of the bladder comes before night-time dryness. Most children are dry through the day by the age of three years and at night by school age. However, this can vary, and children may have accidents every so often, both day and night, up until they are seven or eight years of age.
It is best to seek help from a health professional with special training in children’s bladder problems, such as a doctor, physiotherapist or continence nurse advisor. They can help children with their bed-wetting from when the child is about six years of age. Before this time it can sometimes be hard to get the child to be helpful. However, in some cases it might be wise to seek help sooner, such as when:
Some children who wet the bed at night also have problems with how their bladder works through the day. They may go to the toilet too few or too many times, need to rush to the toilet in a hurry, have trouble emptying out all the urine or have bowel problems. Unless the child has wet underwear, families often do not know about these other bladder and bowel control problems. New day-time wetting by a child who is toilet trained should be discussed with a doctor.
Many children do stop wetting in their own time with no help. Most often, if wetting is still very frequent after the age of eight or nine years, the problem does not get better by itself. There are many ways to treat bed-wetting. A health professional will begin by checking the child to make sure there are no physical causes and to find out how their bladder works through the day. Then, there are a few ways to treat bed-wetting that are most often used:
There are some things which do NOT help:
Every bladder or bowel control problem, no matter how small, needs to be looked after. Childhood bed-wetting is common and help is available.
Call Expert Advisors on the National Continence Helpline for free:
On FREE CALL* 1800 33 00 66 (8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday), or
Visit this website: www.bladderbowel.gov.au
The Helpline is funded under the Commonwealth Government’s National Continence Management Strategy and managed by the Continence Foundation of Australia.
Bed-wetting is common and help is available.
* Calls from mobile telephones are charged at applicable rates.
NATIONAL CONTINENCE HELPLINE 1800 33 00 66 | www.bladderbowel.gov.au | October 2010