Understanding Bedwetting

Woman and girl talking to health care provider.

Bedwetting, also called nighttime enuresis, affects many children, teenagers, and even some adults. It can be frustrating. But it’s usually not a sign of a major problem.

Is something wrong?

Probably not. Bedwetting is rarely due to a physical problem. For many kids who wet the bed, their bladders simply need more time to mature. Some kids also sleep so deeply that they don’t wake up when they need to use the bathroom. If a child wets the bed after being dry for a while, the cause is often a lifestyle change (such as starting school) or a stressful event (such as the birth of a sibling).

What can we do?

Bedwetting is not your child’s fault. Getting mad or upset won’t help. But don’t ignore the problem, either. Instead, work together to cope with bedwetting. Start by visiting your health care provider. This way, health problems that may be causing bedwetting can be ruled out.

Questions that may be asked

Your child’s health care provider may ask the following questions:

  • How often does your child urinate? How much?

  • What color is your child’s urine?

  • Are there any symptoms while urinating, such as burning or pain?

  • Has your child had any constipation or daytime accidents?

  • Does your child have any health problems?

  • Were any other family members bedwetters?

  • Has bedwetting affected your child’s self-esteem or relationships with other kids?

Your child’s evaluation

An exam will be done to look for physical problems. Your child’s urine may be tested for infection. You and your child may be asked to keep a log of his or her urinary patterns for a few days.



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