Betwetting – Answers To Mothers
Infants can be cranky at times and sharing secrets or strategies about how best to deal with them is often the favorite pastime of many mothers. From being fussy eaters to throwing tantrums, these are just some of the things that perhaps every infant will indulge in to some extent or the other. And so is bedwetting.
No matter how embarrassing the problem might be, there’s no denying the fact that bedwetting is one of the most common problems that perhaps every mother of an infant will have to take care of during their child’s growing up years. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one in every five 5 year old is a bedwetter.
Why does a child wet its bed?
Before moving on to the answer, what has to be understood clearly is whether the child has been a consistent bedwetter with there being no dry spell in between or has it been a recent phenomenon.
Both these cases are two very different scenarios. For instance if the child is a habitual bedwetter with never a dry spell in between than the problem is known as primary bedwetting or in medical terms, primary enuresis.
Then there’s the other problem known as secondary bedwetting or enuresis that is characterized by a long dry spell for maybe even a year and then suddenly, the child starts bedwetting. It is generally uncommon for a child to exhibit secondary bedwetting symptoms and is usually the result of some medical anomaly that the child may be going through, for instance psychological stress or trauma. However, this happens to be true in less than 10% of cases.
In most of the cases, it’s primary bedwetting that the child is affected with though a thorough medical examination of the child including that of urine samples does not reveal the reason behind it. So the exact cause of bedwetting continues to be elusive. The only solace that mothers can have is perhaps the fact that one in every five kid of age 5 is known to be bedwetter.
Reasons for a child to be a bedwetter
It is very much possible for children to inherit their bedwetting skills from their parents, as scientists believe primary bedwetting to be linked to the genetic makeup of the child. So there’s every possibility that one or both of their parents may have been bedwetters themselves.
The most common theory to explain bedwetting is that the nervous system of bedwetters is slow at attaining maturity. When the child is fast asleep, any signal transmitted by the brain to the bladder to not to open up when full may die out on the way if the nervous system is still under development.
Another theory that does the round is that children who are bedwetters are also the ones who are deep sleepers. With the child fast asleep, their brains fail to tell the bladder to continue holding on to its contents. However, it is the theory of late maturation of their nervous system that has better acceptability. Also, those who are slow at maturing are likely to have a different sleep pattern as well.
There’s still another theory to explain the phenomenon of bedwetting, that bedwetters may produce more urine at night, much more than what the bladder’s capacity is. Then there are some who believe that bedwetter’s have small capacity bladder in comparison to those who stay dry at night.
How to tackle bedwetting
Consulting your pediatrician should be the first step for parents who wish to tackle the problem of bedwetting, though this is exactly what most parents don’t do. May be they are too embarrassed to discuss it with their doctor, or perhaps their child is. However, it’s extremely important that you seek expert medical advice on the issue of bedwetting just to ensure there are no medical causes to it.
A urine test should be performed to find out whether it is an infection of the urinary tract or excess sugar in the blood that is the cause of bedwetting. A thorough physical examination is mandatory since the root cause of it could be constipation, which might be exerting pressure on the bladder, causing it to release its contents instead of holding on to it. Then the child’s sleep history should be examined as well since the child may be suffering from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder during which breathing stops for a small duration of time. And bladder is prone to release urine during those periods.
Psychological stress is another factor that may be causing secondary bedwetting, or if the child has experienced a recent disaster, like a hurricane or fire. And if this is the cause, than counseling or other help may become necessary.
However, it’s natural for the child to outgrow bedwetting as he becomes older. As the case generally is. Then there are also some behavioral strategies that you might consider to help your child outgrow bedwetting.
At what age should we step in to tackle bedwetting
There’s not much for you to do if it’s okay for you and the entire family. Except to wash the sheets and to let your child wear urine adsorbing materials. Studies have shown an improvement for about 15% of bedwetters, who tend to outgrow it on a yearly basis. And that too without any treatment. So that by the age of 18, only about 1% to 2% still retain the habit of bedwetting.
However, treatment is an option for you to go for if you or particularly your child find it absolutely necessary. And the best way to judge when it’s time to deal with bedwetting is when your child feel the urge for it. Say for instance if it is found to be disrupting your family or that it is causing embarrassment for the child and is preventing him from visiting his friend’s place for sleepovers. Also, the child may have got tired of it and that it makes him feel like a baby. Then it might be the right time to seek medical intervention.
What bedwetting products or treatment shows the best result
Not much study has been done to compare treatments, but urinary alarms have been found to come up with the best results. In a comparison between bed alarms and behavioral interventions or medications, which featured in a recent published review, it is the bed alarms that got the unanimous support of researchers.
There are several models of alarms available, all of which works on the principle of a moisture sensor that is placed inside of your child’s underpants and which sounds off an alarm the moment it detects urine. The alarms aims to impart training to the sleeping child’s brain so that their bladder does not contract and release its contents. And once this is achieved, kids learn to stay dry, even if the alarm is discontinued.
However, may be just as is the case with almost everything, alarms does have some disadvantages. For instance, it takes time to get used to it, sometimes even months. It requires equal commitment form parents as well since they may have to get up with their kids and accompany them to the washroom once the alarm goes off.
Another option that is worth trying is to wake up your child sometime after he has gone to bed, say about 2 to 3 hours later or maybe when you are going to sleep, and let him relieve himself at the washroom. This reduces their chances of wetting the bed. Letting them wear disposable underwear is still another option that mothers can look at, until they outgrow their habit of bedwetting.
Cutting down on fluid intake just after dinner can be another way to prevent your child from bedwetting, though its effectiveness is debatable. And of course this is not to be tried at the cost of your child going thirsty.
Some parents encourage their child to work on their urine retention capability. Like when the child feels its time for peeing, ask him to hold on to it for a few minutes, say for 5 minutes to begin with and slowly work your way up to about 45 minutes. Some believe this will lead to better bladder capacity for the child.
And if you think nothing else is working for the child, then medication is what you might be looking at. There are two types of medicines available, of which desmopressin (DDAVP) is of one type that leads to less amount of urine produced at night. Another type is an antidepressant called imipramine (Tofranil) that, apart from working on similar lines, may even prove to be effective in bringing about a change in sleep pattern. However, the downside of using medicines is that they remain effective as long as they are in use and if discontinued, your child will be bedwetting once more. Also, though medications carry the risk of unwanted side effects, they can be used on a short-term basis for special occasions, like when your child is going on a sleepover.
What else can be done for a child who is a bedwetter
The best thing that you can do to your child is to reassure him that he is not the only one to be doing this, and that there a lot more at school who are equally adept as bedwetting as he is. This will go a long way to make him feel a lot better and a lot less humiliating. And for you, no matter how frustrating the whole thing might be to you, you should never punish him for what he is doing. After all, your child will of course grow out of it one day. Just as the case may have been for you or your spouse. Also, parents can take heart from the fact that one out of every kid of age five is a bedwetter.