Causes and Treatment of Bedwetting in Children: A Comprehensive Guide

This informative article provides parents with insight, practical tips and effective treatment options for managing bedwetting in children and teenagers.

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Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue that affects millions of children worldwide. Although it is a normal part of childhood development, it can be embarrassing and frustrating for both children and parents.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember how bedwetting usually resolves on its own.

As many as sixteen per cent of all seven-year-olds suffer from nocturnal enuresis and although many of them grow out of it, one to two per cent of all young adults still have this problem. 


If the habit continues past the age of 7, there are treatment options available to help your child.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can help your child feel more confident and secure.

Symptoms of Bedwetting in Children:

Of course wetting the bed during sleep is the most obvious symptom of bedwetting. Children who wet the bed will typically do so while asleep, either at night or during naps.

The following are other common symptoms for parents and caregivers who may not be so keen, or somewhat wary of their children’s sleeping habits:

  • Urinating frequently during the day: Some children have an increased urge to urinate during the day. This can be a sign of an overactive bladder.
  • Irritability or moodiness: Bedwetting can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem for children. This can lead to feelings of irritability or moodiness.
  • Hiding wet sheets or clothing: Some children will hide their wet sheets or clothing due to embarrassment or fear of punishment.
  • Unusual sleep patterns: Some children may also have other sleep problems, such as snoring, sleep apnea, or restless sleep.

Causes of Bedwetting in Children:


Bedwetting is caused by a variety of factors, including physical and psychological reasons.

Here are some of them:

Immature Bladder Control: Children who wet the bed often have an immature bladder control. Their bladders are not yet able to hold urine for an entire night, which can cause bedwetting.

The most common cause of childhood bedwetting is a lack of bladder control

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Genetics: Bedwetting often runs in families, suggesting that genetics may play a role in its development.

Half of all children who have this problem had a parent who also struggled with bedwetting. This percent goes up to 75% if both parents had enuresis.

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Hormonal Imbalances: The hormone responsible for reducing urine production at night, known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH), may not be produced in sufficient quantities in some children. This can aslos lead to bedwetting.

If the body is not producing enough ADH, or if the kidneys are not responding to the hormone as usual, it can cause bedwetting.


Sleep Disorders: Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can cause bedwetting in children.

Emotional Issues: Stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues can cause bedwetting in some children.

Emotional stress caused by traumatic events or disruptions in your normal routine can cause bedwetting. For example, moving to a new home, enrolling in a new school, the death of a loved one or sexual abuse may cause bedwetting episodes.

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Lifestyle: Consuption of fluids such as caffeine and sugary drinks before bedtime.

Treatment Options for Bedwetting in Children:

consult your doctor in case of bedwetting
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Fortunately, bedwetting in children is often a temporary issue that resolves on its own.

However, if your child continues to wet the bed past the age of 7 years, there are treatment options available:

  • Bedwetting Alarms: Bedwetting alarms are devices that sound an alarm when a child wets the bed. This is designed to help them learn to wake up and use the bathroom during the night.
  • Medications: Certain medications can help reduce urine production and improve bladder control in children with bedwetting issues.
  • Bladder Training: Bladder training involves teaching a child to hold urine for longer periods. This is aided by gradually increasing the time between bathroom breaks.
  • Counseling: If emotional issues are the cause of bedwetting, counseling may help a child learn coping strategies to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Encouraging your child to drink plenty of fluids during the day and limiting caffeine and sugary drinks before bedtime can help reduce bedwetting.
  • Treating Infections or Medical Conditions: If UTIs or other medical conditions are present, treating them can resolve the bedwetting problem.

How to Manage Bedwetting in Teenagers

Managing bedwetting in teenagers can be challenging, but it’s important to recognize it is a common issue affecting many young people worldwide. It can be a source of embarrassment and shame for the young ones. It is, therefore, essential to handle the issue with sensitivity and understanding.

soda is bad for bedwetting
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Here are some tips for managing bedwetting in teenagers:

1. Understand the Underlying Cause:

Bedwetting in teenagers can have a variety of underlying causes. Talk to your teenager’s healthcare provider to understand the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Here are some common factors:

  1. Delayed Development: Bedwetting is considered normal in younger children, especially those under the age of 5, as their bladder control may not yet be fully developed. Most children eventually outgrow bedwetting as they mature.
  2. Genetics: A family history of bedwetting can increase the likelihood of a child experiencing it. If one or both parents had a history of bedwetting as children, their offspring may also be prone to the condition.
  3. Small Bladder Capacity: Some children may have a smaller bladder capacity, leading to a reduced ability to hold urine for an extended period during sleep.
  4. Overactive Bladder: An overactive bladder can cause children to produce more urine at night, increasing the chances of bedwetting.
  5. Hormonal Factors: Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is responsible for reducing urine production at night. Some children may not produce enough ADH, leading to increased urine production during sleep.
  6. Constipation: Chronic constipation can put pressure on the bladder, reducing its capacity and triggering bedwetting.
  7. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress or major life changes, such as starting school or family issues, can lead to bedwetting in some children.
  8. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Infections in the urinary tract can cause bedwetting, along with other symptoms like pain or discomfort during urination.
  9. Sleep Disorders: Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to bedwetting.

Once the underlying cause of bedwetting is identified, appropriate treatment strategies can be implemented. Some potential treatments and management approaches include:

2. Minimize liquid intake at night:

One strategy to help minimize bedwetting is to control liquid intake before bedtime. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids during the day, but limit the amount of fluids they consume in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Ideally, your child should stop drinking fluids at least one to two hours before going to bed. It’s also important to pay attention to the types of fluids your child is consuming.

Drinks that contain caffeine or sugar, such as soda or energy drinks, can increase the likelihood of bedwetting. Encourage your child to drink water or milk instead.

3. Explore Medication Options:

In some cases, medication may be recommended to help reduce urine production and improve bladder control in teenagers with bedwetting issues. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician or urologist, who can assess the specific situation and recommend the most suitable treatment options.

In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications to help manage bedwetting. The most commonly used medication is desmopressin (DDAVP), which reduces urine production during the night. It is often used for short periods, such as during sleepovers or camping trips, or in certain situations where immediate dryness is desired.

Other medications, such as imipramine, may also be prescribed but are less commonly used due to potential side effects.

Some studies suggest that acupuncture may be effective in treating bedwetting. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy. It is important to seek a licensed and experienced acupuncturist for this treatment.

Hypnotherapy or clinical hypnosis is sometimes used as an alternative treatment for bedwetting. It involves accessing the subconscious mind to address any underlying psychological or emotional factors that may contribute to bedwetting. This treatment should be conducted by a qualified and experienced hypnotherapist.

4. Encourage Good Hygiene Practices:

Teenagers who wet the bed may feel embarrassed and ashamed, and they may be hesitant to discuss the issue with their parents or healthcare provider. Encourage your teenager to practice good hygiene habits, such as changing their bed sheets regularly and showering in the morning.

You can do the following:

Encourage Regular Showers or Baths: Promote daily showers or baths to keep the child clean and fresh. This practice can help boost their self-esteem and reduce any embarrassment related to bedwetting.

Teach Proper Laundry Handling: If the child’s bedwetting accidents occur, teach them how to handle their soiled clothing and bedding appropriately. Show them how to put their dirty items in a designated laundry area and assist with the laundry process if needed.

Use Waterproof Bedding: Invest in waterproof mattress protectors and sheets to keep the child’s bed dry and make cleaning up easier. This can help prevent discomfort and maintain a more hygienic sleeping environment.

Consult a Healthcare Professional: If bedwetting persists despite good hygiene practices, consider seeking advice from a pediatrician or healthcare professional. They can provide additional guidance and support, as well as rule out any underlying medical issues contributing to the bedwetting.

5. Use Protective Bedding:

Protecting the mattress and bedding with a waterproof mattress protector and absorbent pads can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with bedwetting. It also makes cleaning up easier and quicker.

6. Consider Bedwetting Alarms:

Bedwetting alarms can be an effective tool for managing bedwetting in teenagers. These alarms sound an alarm when the sensor detects moisture, helping teenagers wake up and use the bathroom during the night.

7. Encourage Open Communication:

It’s essential to create a safe and supportive environment where your teenager feels comfortable discussing their bedwetting issues. Encourage open communication and reassure your teenager that bedwetting is a common issue that can be managed with the right treatment plan.

8. Address Emotional Issues:

Bedwetting can be caused by emotional issues such as stress and anxiety. Addressing these emotional issues through therapy or counseling can help reduce the frequency of bedwetting episodes.

Therefore, look for a qualified counselor or therapist who specializes in working with children or individuals dealing with bedwetting. They should have experience in treating enuresis (bedwetting).

The counselor will work one-on-one with the child or individual experiencing bedwetting. They will create a safe and supportive environment for open communication. During these sessions, the counselor may employ various therapeutic techniques to address the emotional and psychological aspects associated with bedwetting.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective approach in treating bedwetting. The counselor will help the individual identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about bedwetting. They may also teach relaxation techniques and coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety, which can contribute to bedwetting.

Involving the family in the counseling process can be beneficial. The counselor may provide guidance to parents on how to support their child emotionally, establish a positive bedtime routine, and implement practical strategies such as using bedwetting alarms or restricting fluid intake before bed.

Q & A

Q: What age is bedwetting considered a problem?

A: Bedwetting is considered normal in children under the age of 7. However, if it continues beyond this age, it may be a sign of an underlying medical or psychological issue.

Q: What are some common causes of bedwetting?

A: Some common causes of bedwetting include delayed bladder development, genetics, constipation, urinary tract infections, and sleep disorders.

Q: How can bedwetting be treated?

A: Bedwetting can be treated with various methods such as bedwetting alarms, medication, and behavioral therapy. In some cases, medical treatment may also be necessary.

Q: Is bedwetting a sign of a deeper issue?

A: In some cases, bedwetting can be a sign of an underlying medical or psychological issue, such as sleep apnea, anxiety, or diabetes. It’s important to talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you’re concerned.

The Last Word:

It’s important to note that bedwetting is a common problem, and it’s typically not a cause for concern unless it persists beyond the age of 7 or is accompanied by other symptoms.

If bedwetting continues past the age of 5-7 years, there are several treatment options available to help your child overcome this issue. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bedwetting in children, you can help your child feel more confident and secure.

If you’re concerned about your child’s bedwetting, it’s always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician or healthcare provider. They can help you determine the underlying cause of the problem and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Managing bedwetting in teenagers in particular can be challenging, but it’s essential to handle the issue with sensitivity and understanding. By exploring treatment options, encouraging good hygiene practices, and creating a safe and supportive environment for open communication, you can help your teenager manage their bedwetting issues and feel more confident and secure.

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