The Truth about Bedwetting

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation floating around when it comes to bedwetting.  You’ll hear people say, or you’ll read in a blog, forum, or some other form of real estate on the World Wide Web that bedwetting is a psychological issue.  Or that it’s simply because your child is too lazy to get out of bed — or my personal favorite that it’s about them trying to establish control, or manipulate you.  And I find all of that very sad.  Why would you attach those kinds of labels to someone who has what amounts to be a medical condition?

Bedwetting is caused because there is a lack of proper communication between the bladder and the brain.  Often times, the issue is no more complex than the fact that because the child’s sleep so deeply, the bladder fills and spills over without the brain getting the message that it should.  So instead of taking a situation that’s already horrifying for a child, and making it worse with your lack of understanding and prejudice, how about taking the time to educate yourself on the issue.

Bedwetting Facts

The Statistics Of Bedwetting – I actually found the statistics quite surprising, as bedwetting is more common than I thought it was.  Numbers indicate that in the five years of age group, 15 percent or approximately 4 children in any given first grade class, regularly wet the bed.  Out of that 15 percent, most of them — 85 percent of them — will naturally outgrow the problem without the need of any form of treatment.  By the time children hit their teen years, thankfully, those numbers diminish quite a bit, and only 2 to 5 percent of children, or one child per class, will still be wetting their bad.  And out of that number of teen bedwetters, boys outnumber girls by 4 to 1.

The Medical Terminology — If a child is bedwetting due to a reason other than a condition of their urinary tract, this is called enuresis.  This condition is broken down farther where primary enuresis refers to a child that is never been dry, but secondary enuresis refers to a child that used to be dry, but has since started wetting the bed.  For the sake of clarification, when people talk about bedwetting, they are actually referring to something called nocturnal enuresis, which is also referred to as night wetting or sleep wetting.

Bedwetting is in Your DNA — it’s true, you could be genetically predisposed to bedwetting.  If both parents suffered from bedwetting, there is a 70 percent chance that their child will be a bedwetter as well.  If one parent used to wet the bed, the chance of one of their children being a bedwetter drops down to 40 percent.

What Is and Isn’t Happening — In an infant, their bladder empties on reflex.  The bladder reaches a certain capacity, stretching the muscles to a certain point, at which time they squeeze to automatically empty the bladder.  At around two years of age — sometimes a little bit before and sometimes a little bit after — children develop an awareness of their bladder, and realize when their bladder is full.  This realization is the first step toward bladder control.  The next step is the child’s awareness that he can control or inhibit the emptying of his bladder.  As they do this the bladder stretches and increases in capacity.  The child ultimately reaches daytime bladder control when they can, on a conscious level, stop the automatic reflex that empties the bladder.  Children only attain night time control when they also have the ability to unconsciously inhibit this reflex.

There’s No Communication — Let’s readdress that last sentence from the last section.  A child has to learn to be able to unconsciously inhibit the reflex that empties the bladder.  So the issue is that when they’re asleep, the brain is not communicating or receiving the appropriate message from the bladder.  So the bladder is doing its job, and sending out danger, danger signals, but the brain sleeps through it.  Other issues that could impact bladder control are a small bladder, or the fact that that the emptying reflex that is strong in infants continues to be strong for longer than what is accepted as normal.  So the bladder grows and matures at its own rate, and bedwetting happens because the body has not yet gained mastery over the bladder.

Tiny Bladders — The reality is, some infants — not to mention some adults I know — have very small bladders.  If they fill up quickly, because of their small size, the chances of bedwetting increase.  Have you ever been on a car trip with someone who has to stop at every service station along the way because they have to pee?

Bedwetting And Sleep — Despite the fact that some would like to label bedwetters as manipulative or lazy, observant parents and the medical community know different.  In most cases, bedwetting is simply because a child sleeps so deeply, they’re not aware of the sensation of a full bladder, and then they’re not aware that they are actually wetting the bed.

Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH) – It’s also to be noted that in some cases there may be hormonal issues at play as well.  This hormone is released during sleep and concentrates the urine.  The result of this is that the kidneys produce less of it while you’re asleep, and this stops the bladder from overfilling.  Some bedwetters may have a deficiency of this hormone.

Bedwetting is embarrassing for a child, and must be horrifying for a teenager.  Perhaps understanding that there is a valid reason for why it happens, may offer at least a tiny bit of comfort.