Bedwetting after successful toilet training can be so frustrating for parents and children. Older children may suffer the most. Between age 5 and 8, about 15 percent of children wet their bed at night. Most children outgrow bedwetting by age 7. But 5 percent of children still wet their bed between ages 8 to 11, according to the Mayo Clinic. A new study found that undiagnosed constipation can cause bedwetting. With treatment, 83 percent of these children stopped bedwetting within three months.
When children still wet their bed by age 7, they need to be checked out for a potential underlying medical condition. If no medical problem or condition can be identified, parents can use various methods or devices to help cure many cases of bedwetting. Whatever you do, remember to be supportive and sensitive to your child's feelings.
- · Moisture alarms
Moisture-sensitive alarms are battery operated devices that connect to a pad and your child's clothing. It wakes up the child when urination is about to start. The moisture alarm can be very effective, but it may take several weeks before night time bedwetting completely stops.
- · Medication
A number of drugs help to stop bedwetting. But because all drugs can have side effects, this type of medication should only be given when under close supervision by your doctor or the child's pediatrician.
- · Lifestyle changes
Restricting liquids before bed time, especially caffeine-containing drinks such as colas, may also help.
- · Alternative medicine
Hypnosis and acupuncture treatment have also shown some effect in alleviating bedwetting.
Constipation is implicated in some cases of bedwetting, but new research at Wake Forest Medical Center shows that undiagnosed constipation, or constipation with no apparent symptoms, may cause bedwetting. In undiagnosed constipation, stool accumulates and the rectum enlarges and interferes with bladder capacity.
The study, published online in the journal Urology, involved 30 children, age 5 to 15 years old, who sought treatment for their bedwetting. X-rays showed that all the children had a large amount of stool in a greatly expanded rectum that could interfere with bladder control. The stool occupied the last 5 to 6 inches of the intestine. An enlarged rectum may develop, because children put off going to the bathroom and their bowels never get completely emptied. The children in the study were treated with laxative therapy, which cured bedwetting in all adolescents and 80 percent of the younger children.
Slower maturation of the urinary system or psychological trauma may be responsible for some of the cases of bedwetting in young children. But before you consider medication or surgery for older children, find out if your child has undiagnosed constipation. Non-invasive methods, such as x-rays or ultrasound, can determine if children have a stool-filled expanded rectum.
Hodges, S.J., Anthony, E.Y. Occult Megarectum - A Commonly Unrecognized Cause of Enuresis. Urology (2011) DOI: 10.1016/j.urology2011.10.015