Bed-wetting is unpleasant for all involved. Waking up to an uncomfortable child, changing wet sheets, washing pajamas and cleaning the mattress. You know the drill.
While it’s expected during a certain age, Dr. Kristina Suson of the pediatric urology department at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit says Nocturnal Enuresis, also known as bed-wetting, past 6 years old may be cause for concern.
There are a few reasons kids might not outgrow bed-wetting, Suson explains. Three things contribute: bladder capacity, the amount of urine made, and the child’s ability to wake up if they feel the urge. Kids may have a sleep disorder, such as snoring or breathing difficulties, which can play a role, and constipation can also factor in.
At Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the pediatric urology department is able to help in a number of ways. “Our first step of treatment is going through behavioral modification,” Dr. Suson says. That means patients are prescribed stool softeners and are on a bathroom schedule of every two hours during the day – regardless of if they need to go or not. Plus, they’re told to drink a lot of water through the day.
When using the bathroom, kids are advised to sit on the toilet with their legs spread and take their time using the bathroom. Families may also keep a “voiding diary.” “If it’s discovered the child’s bladder cannot hold an adequate amount of urine, there are medicines that can be prescribed,” Dr. Suson says. “There are also medicines that can help the child make less urine over night.”
The specialists at Children’s can also refer patients to their clinic, where biofeedback training on pelvic muscles may be done to help kids relax and empty their bladders completely.
Having bed-wetting issues at home? Dr. Suson suggests kids avoid drinking liquids before bed, and stick to mostly water, since sugar, caffeine and red dyes are bladder irritants.
Make sure your child’s bowel movements aren’t painful, and do not encourage your child to hold their urine. This can cause kids to ignore the signs they have to urinate, and may cause them to sleep through the urge at night, too. Parents, if you see your kid doing the “potty dance,” Dr. Suson says, “call your kids on that.” Make them stop what they’re doing to take a bathroom break.
If your child is also having daytime accidents, leaking stool, or is prone to urinary tract infections before the age of 6, Dr. Suson suggests seeing a doctor.