Enuresis Definition: Bedwetting

Enuresis, commonly known as bedwetting, is medically defined as the lack of control of urination or urinary incontinence. In other words, it is involuntary urination or more simply put, the inability to control when you pee. Bedwetting often occurs during one’s sleep cycle, and is a more common than thought occurrence in children. Though it is more commonly seen in children, adults can also succumb to bedwetting. A once or twice occurrence of soggy sheets is not an indicator that a child or adult has a bedwetting problem, however, if bedwetting occurs more than twice a week than the child or adult may be considered enuretic.

Bedwetting that occurs at night is known as nocturnal enuresis. Bedwetting may also occur during the day, and is referred to as diurnal enuresis. There are two types of nocturnal enuresis:

  • Primary Nocturnal Enuresis is the onset of nighttime bed wetting before a child has developed bladder control
  • Secondary Enuresis (also Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis) is the occurrence of nighttime bed wetting in a child that has already developed bladder control

Primary Nocturnal Enuresis

Primary nocturnal enuresis begins during childhood where nighttime dryness has not been achieved for longer than six months, according to the National Association for Continence. Primary nocturnal enuresis is more common in boys than girls. Possible causes related to primary nocturnal enuresis include:

  • Genetic inheritance
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bladder disorders
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Bacteria and/or diet
  • Neurological dysfunctions

It is important to remember that primary nocturnal enuresis is an involuntary problem and emotional and behavioral problems are not causative factors of primary nocturnal enuresis, rather they can affect the outcome of treatment for primary nocturnal enuresis. Primary nocturnal enuresis may also be linked with ADD/ADHD symptoms. The Canadian Pediatric Society suggests that primary nocturnal enuresis should be regarded as a variation in the development of normal bladder control, and may also be associated with deep sleep patterns.

Both Children and Adults May Develop Secondary Enuresis

Secondary enuresis in children generally develops at least six months after a continually being dry. The National Kidney Foundation suggests that up to 8% of children will develop secondary enuresis by age ten. There are multiple potential causes for secondary enuresis, including:

  • Bladder infection (also known as cystitis)
  • Overactive bladder
  • Psychological stress from telling situations such as parental divorce, a death in the family or school-related problems
  • Family history of bed wetting

The adult onset of secondary enuresis typically occurs at an older age after years of dryness. Causes in adult secondary enuresis may include heredity, bladder disorders and/or hormone disorders.

Help with Bedwetting is Available

Primary nocturnal enuresis and secondary enuresis can often feel like an embarrassing and abasing problem, therefore it is extremely important maintain emotional support for the bed wetter. Parents can do this by approaching their child’s bedwetting situation with a caring, positive and supportive attitude. A child should never feel like they’re doing something wrong when they wet the bed. Adult bed wetters also should not be afraid to talk to a family member, partner or trusted friend about their bed wetting problem.

Consistent, multiple occurrences of bedwetting may indicate that one should seek medical treatment. The beauty of the situation is that there are ways to help prevent and stop bedwetting. Home remedies for bed wetting may include limiting liquid intake before bedtime, bedwetting alarms, and avoiding caffeinated drinks.

In addition to taking preventative measures at home, a doctor can help with primary nocturnal enuresis and secondary enuresis problems. Bedwetting medication may do the trick, but it is best to consult with a doctor first. Doctors can properly diagnosis primary nocturnal enuresis and secondary enuresis and recommend treatment methods based on an individual’s specific case. When discussing primary nocturnal enuresis or secondary enuresis symptoms with your doctor, you can expect the doctor to ask you for a thorough synopsis of the bedwetting case and a physical examination.

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