What Causes Bed-wetting In Children?

5 min read

Potty training the child is perhaps one of the most challenging part of parenting. It’s every mum’s wish that her child outgrows wetting bed and soiled pants. And they eventually do, however some kids continue to have episodes of bedwetting. Is it plainly because of laziness, or he is scared that a ghost will grab him if he steps out of his bed at night to pee? Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is also called sleep-wetting and night time urinary incontinence. It is characterized by involuntary urination, particularly at night during sleep.
bedwetting causes

What Is Bedwetting?

Bedwetting is the involuntary passage of urine in the day or night, medically known as enuresis. Wetting is quite common for young children, and some degree of bladder control is achieved by kids sometime around their 4th birthday. Kids generally attain daytime wetting control earlier than nighttime wetting control. Bedwetting is also referred to as urinary incontinence. Parents must realise that bedwetting is a common condition and a child who wets his bed needs the parent’s reassurance and support. Bedwetting can be classified into two types:

What Are The Types Of Bedwetting?

Bedwetting is not a behavioral issue, it is more genetic and runs in the families. There is quite a research which has basically classified the causes of bedwetting as:

  1. Primary Bedwetting: The child has been consistently wetting the bed. The primary causes for bedwetting include:
    • Underdeveloped bladder: It is possible that the nerves responsible for regulating bladder are underdeveloped, thereby they are unable to signal full bladder to brain. Therefore the child is unable to identify a full bladder
    • Hormonal imbalance: Some children’s bodies is unable to produce enough ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) which regulates urine production at night, thereby causing too much urine than what the body can handle. This also indicates poor toilet habits in the day
    • Genes: Sometimes, you can simply blame the genes! If the parents experienced same problem during their childhood, then this increases the likelihood of your child suffering it too. A research conducted by Backwin et al. has found that if either of the parent suffered from enuresis during childhood, this increases the chance by 44% that the child will also experience the same problem
    • Deep sleeper: Maybe your child is a deep sleeper and does not wakes up even when the brain signals full bladder

    The primary causes often need to be assessed by the pediatrician along with some testing.

  2. Secondary Bedwetting: The child had a break from bedwetting for about 6 months or more and then again wet the bed during sleep. Daytime bedwetting is a common symptom and it often indicates a medical or an emotional problem. The secondary causes for bedwetting include:
    • Psychological stress: Many studies have linked psychological stress to nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting). An unaddressed emotional need, fear, bullying, anxiety can all contribute to bedwetting. It should be noted that this is time kids join school, interact in social environment or are perhaps expecting a sibling, which may all make them insecure and lower their self-confidence
    • Medical condition: Medical conditions rarely are the reason for bedwetting in young children.
      • Urinary Tract Infection: An inflamed bladder can lead to immediate and frequent urge to urinate. Read more about urinary tract infection here
      • Diabetes: Type I diabetes may cause excess production of urine
      • Defect in nervous system: A damage to the nerves controlling bladder may also result in bedwetting. This could be due to an injury or a disease
      • Structural defects: Bladder stone or a too small bladder may also contribute towards inability to hold urine
    • Constipation: Blocked rectum may put pressure on the bladder causing unwanted bedwetting

Each child is unique and the age at they are able to fully control their bladder thereby varies. This should usually happen between the ages 4 of 7, if bedwetting persists beyond 7 years, you need to delve deeper into this problem and perhaps consult your pediatrician.

What Causes Bedwetting In Children?

Though bedwetting can be the result of an underlying condition, in children it is not really the case. Research has it that bedwetting can be a symptom of some other condition in only 1% of the kids, for rest it is generally a developmental issue. Bedwetting in no way indicate that a child is lazy, disobedient or does it on purpose. Children do learn how to control the bladder at different ages, with girls learning it sooner. Bedwetting is more common than you think, and before you label your child as wilful, you should understand bedwetting and learn how to deal with this common childhood problem.

When Do Children Learn Bladder Control?

Children learn bladder control at different ages and the same varies considerably. While some parents expect their children to learn bladder control early, some parents give their children a lot of time to learn the same. This is due to the cultures and attitudes of the parents and caregivers. It is also learnt that bedwetting is more commonly seen in boys than girls, and a child’s overall physical and mental development and health can considerably impact the age at which bladder control is achieved by a child. However, bedwetting is largely a treatable condition- and several devices like moisture alarms have flooded the markets to help children stay dry at night.

How Can Bedwetting Be Prevented?

Below are a few tips to help your child prevent bedwetting:

  • Make sure he does not drink much fluid 2 hours prior to bed time
  • Ensure that you do not follow a high salt diet in your family, this could make your child’s body to retain the fluids
  • Encourage him to go to use toilet before hitting bed
  • Make sure that your child sleeps properly and is not sleep deprived which will make him sleep deeper
  • Poor daytime toilet habits also need to be worked on, many kids put off going to the toilet while playing etc.
  • Talk to him more, spend time with him and find if something is bothering him. It’s usually the time when kids start school, so perhaps it may be causing stress
  • Reward and praise your kid when he passes a night without wetting the bed. Bedwetting is more of a developmental issue, therefore you need to be more careful with your attitude and how effectively you can bring about behavior modification.
  • It would be helpful to establish a routine for your child, so that you can identify when he wets the bed. In the long run, it would contribute to regulating the body clock as well.
  • You can also use bedwetting alarms

Bedwetting is not a new diagnosis, since long doctors have assured mothers that bedwetting is nothing to worry about. Do not embarrass or scold your child if he happens to counter this situation. However, if this problems begins to hamper his social activities and he tends to spend time in isolation, then perhaps you should discuss the situation with his pediatrician.

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