Reasons for bed wetting & how you can help

It may be of some comfort to know that wetting the bed is very common and the majority of children will grow out of it. We take a look at what causes bed wetting and how parents can help to manage it.
We take a look at what causes bed wetting and how parents can help to manage it.

Wetting the bed, or nocturnal enuresis, can be as upsetting for parents as it is for children. However, it may be of some comfort to know that wetting the bed is very common and the majority of children will grow out of it.

Generally, bed wetting can be categorised as primary nocturnal enuresis or secondary nocturnal enuresis.

5 Reasons for primary nocturnal enuresis

1. Bladder vs brain

The bladder and brain have not yet developed that harmonious relationship where the brain responds to the signal that the bladder is full.
2. Family history

Bed wetting can be genetic. Chances are that if one parent experienced nocturnal enuresis, their child is more likely to have the same experience.
3. Hormones

When you settle down to sleep, your pituitary glands release an anti-diuretic hormone which slows the production of urine so your sleep is not disrupted by the need to urinate.

Some children go through a stage where too little of this hormone is produced.
4. Small functioning bladder capacity

Some children have small daytime bladder capacity, when they finally fall into a deep sleep, their bladder will empty of its own accord when reaching that same small daytime volume.
5. Habitual

Poor daytime toilet training habits. Quite often children ignore the urge to urinate and hold off as long as they possibly can.

They then have trouble recognising the urgency signals going from bladder to brain at night time.


5 Reasons for secondary nocturnal enuresis

Secondary nocturnal enuresis can suggest underlying health concerns.
1. Urinary tract infection

Resulting in bladder irritation that causes a stronger and more frequent urge to urinate. Quite uncomfortable, but luckily easily treatable.
2. Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes means a high level of sugar in the blood.
3. Stress

Stress can trigger bed wetting. It can be triggered by starting school, moving house, the birth of a sibling and parents separating, amongst others.
4. Neurological

Abnormalities in the nervous system can upset the delicate neurological balance that manages urination, resulting in nocturnal enuresis.

5. Pinworm infection

Usually characterised by intense itching of the anal/genital area.


5 Tips for managing bed wetting

Bed wetting can be an emotional experience for anyone - big or small. It is important to remain cool, calm and collected during the bed wetting stage.

Here are a few tricks to help with managing bed wetting, to help make the process a little easier for you and your child:

1. Restrict fluid intake a few hours before bed.

2. Ensure your child's bladder and bowel are empty before bed.

3. Using plastic under sheets to protect their mattress.

4. Look into buying a bed wetting alarm.

5. Use extra absorbent nappies or specially designed nappy/pyjama pants.

In cases where secondary bed wetting persists or becomes unmanageable, it is advisable to seek a medical opinion.

Remember to give your little one love and support. Positive reinforcement and praise goes a long way to helping them during this developmental stage.

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