Dry Up the Bed Wetting

by Jill Taylor on April 16, 2013

in Medical Information

bedwettingAnother morning as you get your kids out of bed and off to school, you go into your son’s room and realize he’s wet the bed. The smell of urine and feelings of disappointment are both looming in the room.

You’ve been changing bed sheets night after night, and doing endless loads of laundry. You wonder when it will stop. When will you be able to throw out all of the overnight diapers and all of the embarrassment you’ve been hiding?

To battle bed wetting, you may need expert help. It is a common condition, medically known as enuresis. Bet wetting is diagnosed at an age when a child will usually have achieved bladder control, usually around age five.

Susan Rapp, PNP works at the new McLane Children’s Scott & White West Temple Clinic that just opened in January. Ms. Rapp helps kids overcome the problems with bed wetting, as it can bring significant stress within the family and may interfere with the child’s social development.

“Embarrassment and anxiety for patient and family are the most important reasons to treat bed wetting,” says Ms. Rapp. “Bed wetting itself causes no direct impairment of the child, but many children feel very alone with this problem, both within the family, and certainly with peers.”

Bed Wetting Basics

In order to treat bed wetting, first classify your child’s enuresis into one of two categories:

  1. Primary enuresis—Usually classified if your child is age five or older and urinates during his sleep at least twice a month. This is seen in about 20% of otherwise healthy five-year-olds.
  2. Secondary enuresis—This is noted when a child has attained dry nights for more than six months but then begins having issues with bed wetting. Some factors may include a stressful life event, such as divorce, death of a loved one, the birth of a sibling or general social chaos in the child’s life.

What Happens During the Night?

The cause of bed wetting can be for a number of reasons, and can be discussed in detail with your healthcare provider. You must realize that your child is not simply being lazy and not getting up to urinate. There may be a variety of causes or biological and psychological issues that may be getting in the way.

Ms. Rapp gives a few explanations of bed wetting:

  • Chronic constipation can irritate the bladder.
  • Sleep apnea may make the child less likely to wake up when they feel the urge to urinate.
  • Urinary tract infections or diabetes.
  • Also consider genetics, as an enuretic parent is seen in 40% of enuretic children, and if both had enuresis this increases to 77%.
  • It is seen slightly more often in boys than girls.

How Can I Help My Child Feel Better About Themselves?

With the stress that comes from bed wetting, it can be hard to stay positive. Realize that your child needs your support and encouragement. Instead of moaning or scolding your child as you change the sheets, try to talk calmly. Wetting the bed should never be a trigger or source for punishment, as this can make the child feel even worse about the situation.

Keep in mind a few ways to help your child stay positive:

  • Remind children that bed wetting is no one’s fault.
  • Let your child know they aren’t alone and other kids have the same problem.
  • Regulate teasing from other siblings or family members.
  • Praise your child for any small success including helping with the clean-up, waking up at night, having smaller wet spots or any other sign of improvement.
  • Ask yourself if your child understands what you’re asking of them.
  • Remember to explain what you’re asking of them to do and that they are willing.
  • Step back and see if they are too young or your expectations too high.

If you feel that you need help from a healthcare provider, be sure to tell your child that it is a safe environment where you all can talk about his bed wetting openly.

“As a healthcare provider, it is important to lessen the anxiety and embarrassment involved in discussing enuresis in the office,” says Ms. Rapp. “We let our patients know that, although the subject matter may be hard to talk about, we are there to listen and offer solutions to correct the problem.”

Making it Easier to Deal with Bed Wetting

Some general first line approaches to bed wetting are to:

  • Limit fluid intake by the child after 6 pm.
  • Have your child urinate just prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a nightlight on in the bathroom.
  • Try to not use pull-ups or diapers.
  • Invest in mattress covers to avoid urine soaking through the sheets.
  • Purchase an air freshener or odor eliminator to get rid of the smell of urine.
  • If an accident occurs, have the child change pajamas and place towels over the wet area. In the morning, the child can change bed linens and shower.
  • Bed wetting alarms are also available on the market. These alarm when the child urinates, waking them up and motivating them to go the bathroom.
  • There are also medications that your doctor can prescribe that tend to work successfully as long as they are taken each night.

It can be scary to think of overnight camp outs or sleepover parties and realize your child may not be ready. Even if you feel that you’ve tried everything and your child is still wetting the bed, don’t be discouraged. This is a stage of childhood that you can go through together and people are there to help. Be patient and encouraging as you set goals and work through the stress of bed wetting together.

If your child needs help with bed wetting, make an appointment today with a McLane Children’s pediatrician by calling 254-724-KIDS (5437).

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