Nighttime bedwetting, medically described as primary nocturnal
enuresis, is a common problem affecting an estimated 5 to 7 million
children in the United States. Chances are, your child has a classmate,
friend or teammate who wets the bed. Although common,
bedwetting is seldom discussed outside the family, and little information
is provided to the public on this topic. This has not enhanced the
quality of life for these children and their parents.
When was the last time you read about bedwetting in the health
section of your local paper? It is very important that parents understand
the facts about bedwetting, because bedwetting can cause psychosocial
problems for children and their parents. In the absence of factual
information, misconceptions proliferate. Several misconceptions
about bedwetting are: that a child's bedwetting is caused by drinking
too much fluid before bedtime; that the child has deep-seated psychological
problems; and that the child is too lazy to get out of bed to void.
The underlying cause (etiology)
of bedwetting has been studied by numerous researchers and is known
to be multifactorial. That is, there is no ONE single cause for
bedwetting. This has complicated the approach to treatment, where
a simple "cause-effect" relationship is much more straightforward
and easier to understand. Recent research has confirmed that genetics
plays a major role in the disease.
A number of factors must be taken into account when considering
treatment. These include the child's age (older children tend
to suffer more from the stigma of bedwetting and lessened participation
in peer activities); the severity of the problem within the family
(the burden of daily laundry and teasing); and the child's likely
response to therapy.
A thorough medical history and examination is necessary to determine
which specific treatment combination will work best for your child.
Fortunately, help is available.