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Bedwetting is nobody’s fault

It’s a common medical condition
that can and should be treated1

For decades, bedwetting was considered as a simple condition that
would resolve spontaneously. However, it is now regarded as a complex disorder
involving several factors such as bladder dysfunction and the over-production
of urine at night.2 Children will not just ‘grow out’ of it. We now know
that this is a medical condition which can be treated.

Bedwetting usually does not have a psychological cause; in most cases it is caused by over-production
of urine at night, the inability to wake up or reduced capacity of the bladder.2 This medical condition
can have a serious detrimental effect on the child’s self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and day time
functioning, including school and social performance.2–4 However, the impact on the child and
their family is often underestimated and trivialised.5

The International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS) and the European Society for Paediatric
Urology (ESPU) launched World Bedwetting Day (WBD) in 2015. World Bedwetting Day takes place
on the last Tuesday of May, each year. By raising awareness of bedwetting as a common condition
that can and should be treated,1 WBD aims to encourage families to discuss bedwetting with their
doctors and get the help they need. The common theme that was initially created is focusing on
‘Time to take action’, in recognition that much more can be done to diagnose and treat those
children who experience bedwetting.

There is no need to wait – you can help your child today!

Bedwetting usually does not have a psychological cause; in most cases it is caused by over-production
of urine at night, the inability to wake up or reduced capacity of the bladder.2 This medical condition
can have a serious detrimental effect on the child’s self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and day time
functioning, including school and social performance.2–4 However, the impact on the child and
their family is often underestimated and trivialised.5

The International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS) and the European Society for Paediatric
Urology (ESPU) launched World Bedwetting Day (WBD) in 2015. World Bedwetting Day takes place
on the last Tuesday of May, each year. By raising awareness of bedwetting as a common condition
that can and should be treated,1 WBD aims to encourage families to discuss bedwetting with their
doctors and get the help they need. The common theme that was initially created is focusing on
‘Time to take action’, in recognition that much more can be done to diagnose and treat those
children who experience bedwetting.

There is no need to wait – you can help your child today!

Did you know...

An increased
association
between bedwetting,
brain and psychological
functioning as well as
sleep issues is well
documented.

Bedwetting is a
common childhood condition,
with approximately 5–10%
of 7-year-olds regularly wetting
their beds and the problem
may persist into teenage
and adulthood.7

Bedwetting,
also known as
nocturnal enuresis,
is an involuntary
leakage of urine while
a sleep.6 In children aged
5 years or over, enuresis
is considered a medical
condition that can
be treated.

Bedwetting is a
common childhood condition,
with approximately 5–10%
of 7-year-olds regularly wetting
their beds and the problem
may persist into teenage
and adulthood.7

In most cases bedwetting
is caused by over-production
of urine at night or reduced
capacity of the bladder.
An inability to wake up
is another cause.2
Bedwetting does not
necessarily have a
psychological cause.2

Successfully
treating bedwetting
can improve quality
of life and reduce
psychological
problems.4

Testimonials

If your child is still wetting their bed, you are not alone. Below are some experiences
of parents and families known to the members of the steering committee.

Real life testimonials provided by ERIC, The Children's Bowel

& Bladder Charity and Bladder & Bowel UK (BBUK).

My daughter is 9 and had never been dry at night. We'd used pull up diapers – with times trying without them with no success.

We sought expert help and followed their guidance – bought a bed alarm, waterproof top sheets and started putting the bedside light off at night in her room. I am still amazed at how quickly my daughter was dry. From day 1 she has been wet twice – both in the first 2 weeks. 6 weeks on she has been dry continuously. My daughter is much happier now – and not worried about going on sleepovers!”

Parent

Scotland

Our son is 7 and has been dry during the day since he was 3, but has needed pull up diapers at night.

It got to the point where it was starting to bother him. We contacted our doctor and got given lots of information and support. It really helped to know that our son is by no means unusual. Armed with a wealth of information and tips we decided to go ‘cold turkey’ and stop using the pull up diapers. We are now 18 nights along and 14 of those 18 nights he has been dry. We are so glad we asked for help.”

Parent

UK

Having a son with a continence problem (day time and night time wetting) is challenging for our son and us in so many ways.

It’s… never leaving the house without multiple spare changes of clothes, always having to remember to regularly remind and encourage him to go to the toilet, having to encourage him to drink enough during the day, feeling worried about the emotional impact his wetting may have on him at some point, and sometimes feeling frustrated it will never improve, whilst trying to stay calm, understanding and hopeful that things will get better one day. Through our journey so far, I have come to realise that going to the toilet might be our priority, but often it isn’t our son’s… and so we have tried to find ways to make it relevant and important to him. Speaking to a healthcare professional has helped us to make some changes such as increasing his fluid intake, cutting out berry based squashes and encouraging our son to sit down on the toilet when he empties his bladder. He now understands how his bladder and bowels work and we often talk about him needing to be ‘the boss of his bladder’.”

Parent

UK

Covid lockdown seemed like the perfect time to attempt to get our son dry at night, but after a month of washing every day we contacted our doctor and school nurse.

Since then, we have been implementing many of the strategies suggested by the health care professionals and we are now hopeful that the end of bedwetting may be in sight and that he will be able to start enjoying sleepovers and camps with his peers.”

Parent

UK

FAQ

Bedwetting experts from the ICCS (International
Children’s Continence Society) and the ESPU (European
Society for Paediatric Urology) give their answers
to a wide range of questions...

Fight Bedwetting – Checklist

Do you feel like you’ve tried everything to help your child with their bedwetting? If you are feeling helpless, fear not. This checklist will help you be your child’s superhero.

Read more

It is well known that children with bedwetting are unable to wake up when they pee at night. It has been believed for many years that the sleep of children with bedwetting is too deep, but recent research has indicated that children who are wet at night have poor sleep quality as the bladder disturbs their sleep but is unable to wake them fully.

Bedwetting is clearly an inherited condition, and in approximately 70% of affected children there is at least one other family member who has or had the same problem as a child. For example, if a mother had bedwetting as a child, there is a 7 times increased risk that her children will also have bedwetting. A specific gene that causes enuresis has not yet been identified, but current research is focusing on this assignment.

Normally, enuresis is not caused directly by psychological disturbances, but having enuresis may cause psychological problems, especially affecting quality of life and self-esteem. These resolve with successful treatment of enuresis.

Increased night time urine production ('nocturnal polyuria') and reduced night time bladder capacity are the two most common causes of bedwetting. It is important to know that these two causes may occur at the same time in a child. It is possible to recognise which of these two factors play a role in your child by simple home recording tools. By identifying how much urine your child passes during the day using a bladder diary, it is possible to work out whether your child has 'reduced bladder capacity' (by comparing with published values for your child's age).

By home recording of nocturnal urine volume it is possible to evaluate whether the child has nocturnal polyuria. With this method, diapers are weighed at bedtime and again the following morning. The difference in diaper weight plus the volume of any urine produced during the night, plus the volume of the first urine produced in the morning constitutes the total night time urine volume. Also, there are internationally accepted reference values for nocturnal polyuria.

Although most children with bedwetting since infancy have no underlying disease in either the nerve system that controls bladder function or in the anatomy of the urinary tract, this should be ruled out by a visit to your doctor or nurse. Also, the doctor or nurse will determine whether bedwetting is the only problem, or if there are other issues that need to be addressed. This could be wetting during the day, signs of ‘overactive bladder’ (frequent and strong sensation to void), faecal incontinence and constipation and recurrent urinary tract infections. If these conditions are present they should be treated before any treatment for bedwetting is initiated.

Helpful Media

Watch our videos to learn more about the causes of bedwetting, to see what help is available and how you can get your child dry at night.

Useful Tools and Resources

Treating bedwetting will allow your child to enjoy their childhood. There is no
need for your child or family to continue struggling. Use our downloadable
resources to help you manage bedwetting at home and help your child get
the treatment they need to stop bedwetting.

You can download the
Drydawn Bedwetting Diary app
to help prepare for a visit to a doctor: