Childhood Enuresis

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • For most children, summertime is something looked forward to all year. There are sleepovers and camps and vacations and all sorts of fun things going on. Yet, for the five to seven MILLION children in the U.S. (age six and over) who wet the bed at night, thoughts of these occasions can bring feelings of fear, helplessness and embarrassment. Most children stop wetting the bed during the night by the age of five. However, wetting the bed after the age of five is not uncommon. Bedwetting, called nocturnal enuresis, is generally thought to be caused by genetics. A variety of other contributing causes can also factor into the equation, making it challenging to cure or treat the condition.
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    There is no treatment option for enuresis that has a 100% cure rate, which means you’ll probably have to experiment a bit with what works best for your child. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can start figuring out what might be causing the enuresis and what you can do about it. I thought what might be most helpful is to list some ideas I’ve seen or heard of that might make this summer a bit more enjoyable for your child.

  • Some people find that helping their child get more sleep helps them to have drier nights. Try an earlier bedtime for a while and see if you notice a difference.

  • There are some medications on the market that don’t cure enuresis, but they can help manage it. The good news is that these medications can be used on a short-term basis, so your child could use it as needed for camp or sleepovers.

  • One of the medications for enuresis is DDAVP. The original version of this medication required refrigeration, so some children would bring it to camp, and if it wasn’t refrigerated after a few days it would loose effectiveness. The newer version of the medicine no longer requires refrigeration, making it much easier for camps or vacations.

  • Try avoiding fluids for about two hours before bed. Encourage your child to drink their liquids throughout the rest of the day so that they’re still hydrated. No one should ever go to bed thirsty, so drink some water if necessary. Also be sure to avoid “liquidy” foods before bed, such as fruits, popsicles, etc.

  • Avoid bladder irritants, especially before bed, such as citrus juices, chocolate and especially caffeine.

  • Discretely pin a waterproof pad or sleeping bag liner into the interior of the sleeping bag.

  • Try using pull-up type diapers. Some people will say that this is controversial, so you may want to do your own research before trying this method. Many parents, including my own, will attest to the fact that the use of absorbent products gave their children a renewed sense of control over the condition.

  • If you use pull-ups, go shopping with your child for pajamas that will conceal them.

  • If you use pull-ups for a camp situation, pack a “bathroom bag” with your child. This can be a duffle-bag or backpack, something that you can put a supply of pull-ups and wipes in before leaving for camp. Each evening your child can take this bag to the bathroom to get ready for the night without risking exposing themselves as they pull their pull-ups out of their regular clothing bag.

  • If you’re sending your child to a sleep-away camp, TALK TO THE COUNSELORS. With so many children dealing with this condition, chances are they’ve dealt with it before. In high school,l I was going to a church lock-in and a boy from my church confided in me that he couldn’t go because he had enuresis. I talked him and his mother into speaking with the adult coordinators of the event. It turns out that one of the chaperones also had enuresis and together they worked out a solution.

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  • If the above solutions don’t make overnight camp or sleepovers a possibility for your child, consider finding an alternative fun activity. Look with your child for a fun daycamp that takes field trips to interesting places.

  • Childhood is difficult for a lot of kids for a lot of different reasons, and bedwetting certainly doesn’t make it any easier! Hopefully, some of these tips will be helpful to you. Whatever you do, help your child to understand the medical reasons for enuresis, so that they won’t feel personally responsible or at fault.

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Published On: June 22, 2006