It’s probably not a club you ever dreamt of joining, but you’re in it anyway. The good news is that chances are, your membership will be short-term. Most kids start staying dry before starting school. Each year after that, the percentage of bedwetters decreases even more. There aren’t very many kids who go off to college needing diapers – it does happen, but it’s really pretty rare.
So what’s up with bedwetting?
What’s the cause? In other words, why you? Why your child? First of all, there are two types of bedwetting. The first is Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (PNE). This describes children who have never stayed dry at night, or at least, never on a regular basis. The second type is Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis. This describes kids who used to stay dry, but who have recently started wetting the bed. The causes for each type are different, and so are the remedies and treatments.
Primary Nocturnal Enuresis
Generally, primary enuresis is a problem passed down from one generation to the next. It’s more common in boys, but happens to girls, too. Even if your whole family is mum on the subject, you can bet some of the nests in the family tree throughout the years were floating! You might not have a line of relatives clamoring to share their experiences, but you can know they’re out there. If the former bedwetters in your family are willing to fess up, it could go a long way toward helping your child’s optimism. After all, if Uncle Joe used to wet the bed, and is now married, employed, and dry, there’s hope!
Theories abound about the causes of primary nocturnal enuresis. Small bladder. Immature bladder. Deep sleeper. Brief REM cycle. Too many fluids before bedtime. Too little fluids during the day. Too much caffeine. The list is endless.
The list of what doesn’t cause bedwetting is just as long. Enuresis isn’t caused by emotional problems, how you potty trained your child, a serious medical disorder, or your child’s laziness or apathy.
Enuresis of either type merits a visit to your pediatrician. But chances are you’ll hear that it’s a problem your child will outgrow, that it’s a hereditary problem, and that you should try different remedies to see if any are helpful.
Some families find bedwetting alarms helpful. For others, it’s just a really loud interruption of a good night’s sleep. There are medications, including pills and nasal sprays that can help in some cases. Again, they work for some kids, sometimes. Same thing with homeopathic or herbal bedwetting remedies, hypnosis, and biofeedback. They’re all worth a try. Just do your research first, and follow the directions exactly.
This is the type of bedwetting that catches you by surprise. Your child’s been dry for years, when all of a sudden, you’re getting that midnight knock on the door. “Mommy, I wet the bed.” What the heck is going on?
Good question – and it’s one your pediatrician may be able to help you with. It’s important to rule out bladder and urinary tract infections. If something simple like this is causing your child to wet the bed, you’re really in luck! A few days on an antibiotic, and you’re out of the bedwetting club!
If there’s no evidence of infection, take a look at your family’s recent circumstances. Have you moved, had a new baby, lost a relative, changed schools, or had something else stressful happen? Some children have trouble processing these events, and their worries intrude on their sleep enough to bring on a cycle of bedwetting. Provide the support your child needs to get through the stressful time, and the bedwetting will end sooner than later.
Sue LaPointe is the owner of Bedwetting Help for Moms
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