How common is nocturnal enuresis and how can it be treated?
Nocturnal enuresis is the official term for wetting the bed at night. This type of incontinence can be experienced by adults as well as children who have already been toilet trained.
Nocturnal enuresis in children
Night-time bedwetting is a frequent concern for parents and their children. But how common is it? Of course, during their early development years, the release of urine at night-time is normal, which is why infants wear nappies. On average, a child will gain control of their bladder somewhere between the ages of two and four – each in their own time. By ages five or six, a child might have a problem if the bed is wet once or twice a week over a few months. If this is the case, it may be that some form of treatment is necessary.
If your child suffers from nocturnal enuresis, here are some key bedwetting tips to remember:
- Be co-operative and understanding when they wet the bed, and reward them when they don’t
- Ensure they go to the bathroom every night before going to sleep
- Avoid humiliating them in public about the issue – try to keep your tone friendly and soft when discussing what’s happened
- You don’t need to wake them in the night if they wet the bed – unless they realise themselves, it can wait until the morning
- Don’t stop them from having sleepovers or socialising, but try to encourage them to wear incontinence pants and inform the parents in charge of the situation
Your child’s healthcare professional will be able to suggest a suitable treatment if they believe that the bedwetting is an issue. One option you can consider is a enuresis alarm, which is activated when your child wets the bed. This can alert them for the need to pass urine, so they can make the decision to go to the bathroom or to hold on until the morning. Alarms can be bought online, or might be available at your local pharmacy.
Nocturnal enuresis in adults
It is estimated that between 2-3% of adults suffer from Involuntary urination at night, which has many causes including hormonal changes, kidney problems, illness or certain medications. A healthcare professional can carry out tests including a neurological evaluation and a urine analysis to determine the root cause of the problem. Once you’ve received an official diagnosis, there are a number of treatments for nocturnal enuresis that you can try. One option is a self-care product such as an incontinence pad or an adult nappy. These can reassure you that if you do wet the bed, you will be protected. However, patient associations agree that self-care products should be seen as a last resort rather than as a first-line treatment. That’s because there are many solutions available for people with incontinence, and it should not be thought of as a condition that is an inevitable part of old age. This is not something that you just have to put up with!
Whether you are an adult suffering from incontinence, or a parent who is concerned about their child’s bedwetting, the first step is to speak to a healthcare professional, most likely a neurologist or urologist. Before the appointment, track your or your child’s bathroom habits for three days in a bladder diary. You can find an example diary here.
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