Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bedwetting (enuresis) – A Guide for Parents

Most doctors consider a bedwetting child to be any girl older than age four and any boy over age five who wet the bed. Bedwetting generally declines with age. About 10% of all six year olds and about 3% of all 14 year olds wet the bed. In a very small number of cases, bedwetting can continue into adulthood. 

Bed-wetting (enuresis) is considered to be PRIMARY if the child has never been dry at night or only is occasionally dry at night. SECONDARY enuresis refers to bed-wetting episodes that occur after a child has been dry at night for a considerable length of time.

Primary Enuresis: When the problem continues into the school years, appropriate intervention can usually correct the problem. This article will review the causes for Primary Enuresis.

Secondary Enuresis: Children who have been dry at night for a considerable period of time may have occasional episodes of bedwetting. These are usually related to stresses in a child’s life and clear up on their own. Three of the more common events likely to cause bedwetting in young children are: hospitalization, entering school and the birth of a sibling. Children can also experience stress from such family problems as divorce, parental alcoholism, financial pressure as well as abuse and neglect. If the symptoms persist, you should consult your child’s doctor because the cause may be a physical problem which may require diagnosis and treatment.

Primary Functional Enuresis (Chronic Bed-wetting)

Cause: Chronic bed-wetting is thought to be related to 
  • Physically and/or neurologically immature bladder and/or 
  • Deep sleeping pattern. 
Apparently these children often sleep so deeply that they are not aware of the message the bladder sends to the brain saying it is full. It is presumed that bed-wetting is an inherited condition. Usually a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or other family member(s) will have had the condition. Also, children with attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities or allergies seem to be more likely to be bed-wetters than children in the general population.

Effect of Bed-wetting on the Child and Family: 

By the first grade, most children are embarrassed by their bed-wetting condition. They tend to withdraw from social activities that require sleeping outside their home. They also often suffer from low self-image. These children’s feelings can be greatly affected by the attitudes of their parents, who may feel that their efforts to end the bed-wetting have failed. Parents may also feel frustrated, angry and embarrassed about their children’s bed-wetting condition. Parents can help their children reduce negative feelings about their bed-wetting condition and speed up the process of overcoming it, by offering positive support, understanding and encouragement.

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