Bed wetting or nocturnal enuresis occurs when a person urinates on a bed while he/she is still asleep. It is most common in infants, toddlers, and preschooler under the age of 5. However, the research indicates that 15% of 5 year olds, 5% of 10 year olds, and 1% of adults, do wet their bed as well. There’re two types of nocturnal enuresis;
Primary bed-wetting– for people who never had dry nights consistently for a couple of months. Primary enuresis is most common in children.
Secondary bed-wetting– people who experienced dry nights for more than six months, but they later started to wet their bed. It is common for adults.
Bed wetting in children
Do you find yourself up in the middle of the night to help your young ones change his/her pajamas and beddings? If so, don’t worry, many parents find themselves in a similar situation. Bed wetting is very common in children below the age of 5 and isn’t supposed to cause an alarm unless there’re other symptoms. Most children wet their bed until they reach the age of 5 or 6 years. However, 15% of kids will continue to wet their bed even after this age limit.
What causes bed wetting in children?
Bed wetting in children is caused by one or a combination of the following;
- Taking much fluid before bet time– if your child has drinks before bedtime, he will produce more urine during the night, and as his bladder is still developing and small, he may not be able to hold the urine. Refreshments that contain caffeine such as chocolate and coffee may also increase the urge to pee.
- Deep sleepers– if your child sleeps heavily, he may not awaken by a signal of a full bladder to their mind. Remember, the child’s brain is also developing, and he/she may not sense the nerve of a full bladder while still asleep.
- Other health condition– your kid can wet their bed if they have other underlying health conditions such as;
- Constipation– when the child doesn’t have a smooth bowel movement, the blocked rectum can press the bladder making it smaller and therefore causing bed wetting.
- Urinary tract infection (U.T.I) – it makes the child feel the urge to wee.
- Type one diabetes – As the body tries to eliminate more sugar, your kid tends to pee more frequently.
- Emotional problems– a child can wet his bed if he has a psychological issue such as stress. The family members can cause it for example parents quarreling or divorce, the presence of a newborn child at home. Or being bullied by other kids, going to a new school, etc.Emotional problems can cause your child to start bed wetting after having experienced dry nights for a while.
- Genetic factor– bed wetting, just like many disorders, can be inherited. So, if one parent or both used to bed wet while they were young, there is a possibility that their children will also bed wet. Be patient and wait for your kid to grow out of it, just like you or your partner did.
How to handle a bed wetting child?
Bed wetting can affect your child both emotionally and socially if you don’t handle it with care. A child can develop low self-esteem and even get stressed. A bed wetter child may not be comfortable for sleepovers. It may, in turn, affect their healthy lifestyle as well as their social life hence their Performances at school. In most cases, children outgrow bed wetting, and so it’s just a matter of time, and your child too will also enjoy dry nights. However, before that time comes, here is how a parent should cope with their bed wetting kids;
- Be supportive– let your child know that it’s normal to bed wet for kids and he/she isn’t the only one doing it. Assure them that they’ll outgrow it and they shouldn’t be stressed at all about it. Never punish or shout to your child because of bed wetting as this can even make the matter worse.
- Don’t embarrass your child– you should ever scold your child in front of others. Also, don’t let other children tease him about bed wetting. Make it clear to everyone at home that it’s nobody’s fault to wet the bed.
- Encourage your child– you can let your child help you in changing his sheets. However, this shouldn’t be a punishment, but it’ll make him put effort to stop peeing in bed. Encourage your child to avoid drinks 2 hours before bet time. Give your child more fluids earlier in the day to keep them hydrated by evening.
- Talk and listen to your child– let them express their feeling. Ask him what he thinks about it and let him suggestions on what he thinks you both do, to overcome any fear they may be having. Again you can also make the child know that it could be a hereditary issue and so just like you the parents outgrew it; he’ll also stop it with time.
- Remind your child to pee before going to sleep– you should also encourage your child to use the toilet a lot throughout the day to have less urine by bed time. Train them to visit the washroom and empty their bladder before proceeding to bed.
- Make it easy for your kid to access the toilet during the night– some kids may wet their bed simply due to the fear of waking up in the dark. Understand your child and tell him to wake you up, or you leave the night light on.
- For a 5 to 6 years old, reward the kid the nights he manages to stay dry. You can make this fun by having a calender where you let the kid mark their dry nights, by putting a star. If they count up to 10, buy them their favorite toys or whatever it’s you promised.
- If your child is seven years to 12 years, buy them a moisture alarm. This alarm is put in your child’s underwear or on the mattress pad. It then goes off the moment it gets wet and helps your child to get up go to the toilet and change his pajamas. Your child will then get used to waking up on his own after some weeks of using this alarm. This method is beneficial and has been proven to be quite effective towards beating bed wetting in children.
- 1-3% of teenagers are also the victims of bed wetting. Ensure you buy them more night wears and bed sheets in case they need to change in the middle of the night. If it’s a result of primary bed wetting, encourage them to have bladder training exercise and control their fluids during bedtime. And in the case of secondary enuresis, take them to the doctor for treatment to solve their bed wetting problem. If stress is the cause of bed wetting, take them to a counselor.
- Last but not least, always ensure your child and his bedding, including the mattresses topper, are clean all the time. You can have as many as possible linens so that they have multiple for use even during the very cold season. Also do ensure that their room is well ventilated and opened up during the day, to allow fresh air into the room. If your child is old enough, get them involved in doing such small duties as you teach them to be responsible.
When can you see your child’s doctor regarding bed wetting?
Mostly, there is no need to consult a pediatrician if your kid is below six years and has no other issues, other than bed-wetting. However, you should alert your kids’ doctor if;
- Your child is above six years old and still bed wetting.
- You notice blood in his urine.
- Your child pees more frequently even during the day, that is after every five minutes or less.
- He/she has constipation.
- He/she snores heavily during the night.
- Your child is experiencing pain when urinating.
- Your child suddenly starts bed-wetting after having dry nights for a period of 6 months or more.
A doctor can carry out a urinalysis test on your child and other diagnosis, to find out whether he has UTI or other kidney infections. The doctor may also ask questions regarding your kid’s lifestyle, to help determine any other possible factors contributing to the bed wetting.
The doctor may also prescribe a DDAVP drug to children older than seven years to minimize the production of urine during the night. The drug has a side effect such as a mild headache and therefore not recommended for younger children.
Much urine production may also be a symptom of diabetes type 1. It is therefore important to take your loved one to the hospital for a diabetes type 1 checkup if they tend to produce abnormally large units of urine.
Bed wetting in adults
As discussed above, bed wetting is most common among developing children and teenagers. However, according to research, 1-2% of the adult population also wakes up to wet beds! The number of bed-wetting adults is suspected to be higher, as many adults are embarrassed to discuss the bed wetting issue, and they do not talk to their doctors either. Adults’ bed-wetting is termed as Secondary Enuresis, and this means that there is an underlying problem that is causing it.
What causes bed wetting in adults?
Reasons why adults bed-wet include;
- Kidney Disorders such as; Urinary Tract Infections. (UTI)
- Medication side effect
- Stress and depression
- Hormonal imbalance
- Sleep Apnea
How to treat bed wetting in adults.
You should, first of all, accept the situation to seek help. Don’t be ashamed to talk to your doctor and your partner as well about your problem. Consider that your closest partner already knows about your bed-wetting problem, and having them understand is key towards helping find a remedy to your issue of bed wetting. This should boost your esteem and you should proceed to see a doctor for relevant tests to determine what triggers your bed wetting. They will then administer treatment and make recommendations. You should consider surgery as your last option in trying to treat bed-wetting; that is if the cause is cancer or apnea, and very complicated. Meanwhile, reducing the volume of fluids you take in the evening, taking less or no caffeinated drinks, setting the alarm to wake up and pee could offer you help as you seek to recover from bed wetting.
If bed-wetting is a result of any medication side effect, talk to a specialist for advice on how you can make it mild, or get recommendations for alternative drugs. Nursing women should do kegel exercises to tighten their pelvic floor muscles and be able to control the flow of the urine.
If your spouse does wet the bed, offer them your moral and psychological support. Avoid embarrassing them, as they are already. Show understanding for their situation, and encourage them to see a doctor. You can accompany them to see a doctor and walk with them every step through their healing.
Tips to help while dealing with wetness
Sleeping on a cold bed can distract both you and your kid’s sleep. Insufficient sleep will lead to poor health. So, as you wait for your child to grow up and stop bed wetting; or as you undergo nocturnal enuresis treatment, there are ways in which you can control wetness and sleep soundly in a warm bed.
- Cover your mattress with a waterproof cover or buy a waterproof mattress for more natural cleaning.
- Use diapers. Adult diapers are also available for older kids.
- Buy waterproof pants.
- Apply skin lotions to avoid skin rashes.
- Buy water absorbent pajamas and bedding.
Does diet cause bed wetting?
The type of food you or your child take may increase the chances of bed wetting. You already know that you should avoid alcoholic drinks, coffee, chocolate, salt and sugary drinks, to reduce the likelihood of bed wetting. So, what should you take?
Constipation is a significant cause of bed-wetting, and occurs as a result of poor dieting. So, to avoid constipation ensure your meals have high fiber content and include fruits such as; grapes, pears, apples, and oranges. Ensure you consume vegetables as well as fish. Drinking more water, milk and natural yogurt is also recommended to avoid constipation, but remember to have them during the day and not in the evening.
At what age does bed wetting naturally stop?
Children are different, and they develop differently too. Therefore, there’s no specific age that you can expect your child to stop bed-wetting. You shouldn’t compare yourself, or your child with anyone else. Some children stop wetting their bed as early as at 2 years, while others continue bed wetting, through to teenage. Nonetheless, if your child is seven years old, and still bed-wetting, you should be concerned. Bed-wetting affects boys more than girls. A majority of girls will stop it by the time they hit five years of age, while most boys stop bed-wetting at six years.
As discussed above, you or your child are not the only people dealing with nocturnal enuresis. So be encouraged. Bed wetting is treatable, but if your child is below seven years, you have nothing to worry about. If they continue to wet their bed at puberty, consult a doctor who should conduct some tests, and offer the right medication or recommendation.
Adults who wet their beds should ensure they seek medical attention to treat the possible disorders that could be behind their bed wetting problem.
If all the above possible solutions to bed wetting do not yield results, one should be optimistic and exercise patience as they embrace the above recommended home remedies to enjoy dry warm nights. After all, the whole bed wetting issue might just stop!