Treatment options for bedwetting

Bedwetting is a medical condition that can be treated. If your child wets the bed, be sure to make an appointment to see their doctor to rule out other causes, such as a urinary tract infection or diabetes. Although some children outgrow bedwetting on their own, others may benefit from treatment, especially if bedwetting has a large impact on their life.

One study showed that treating children who suffered from bedwetting improved the children's self-esteem. Treatment improved children's perception of their own intelligence, physical appearance, and popularity. Parents in the same study felt their children's behaviour improved.

Treatment options for bedwetting include behavioural therapy and medications.

Behavioural therapy

  • Motivational therapy, which provides emotional support by removing the shame or embarrassment your child feels.
  • Behavioural conditioning, such as using a moisture alarm. This alarm connects to a moisture-sensitive pad that is attached to your child's pyjamas or bedding. Once it senses the first signs of wetness on the bed, the alarm goes off – alerting the child and parent and helps teach the child to wake up when they have a full bladder
  • Bladder training, such as encouraging your child to wait longer to urinate during the day. This may help your child's bladder hold more urine at night.

Bear in mind that these methods may take some time (weeks to months) to work.

Medication therapy

Your doctor may recommend medications to help with bedwetting, such as desmopressin. Desmopressin (DDAVP) acts similarly to a natural messenger in the body that helps your child control the amount of urine that is produced as they sleep.

Non-bedwetting children have enough of this natural messenger, whereas bedwetting children may not have enough. By helping to control the amount of urine produced during sleep, desmopressin reduces the chances that your child will wet the bed.

This medication is available as a regular tablet or fast-disintegrating tablet for bedwetting, and it should be used together with non-medicinal therapy, such as motivational counselling and bladder exercises. The fast-disintegrating tablet is an option for children who can't swallow pills. The fast-disintegrating tablet melts under the child's tongue and can be swallowed without water. It can begin to work within one hour of taking the medication. Children should not drink water 1 hour before and 8 hours after taking DDAVP.

Desmopressin can be used on a daily basis to help your child manage bedwetting. Others use it on an occasional basis and find it especially useful during social events such as sleepovers, camping trips, and family vacations.

If your child has a small bladder, medications such as oxybutynin, which belongs to a family of medications called anticholinergics, may help reduce bladder contractions and increase how much urine the bladder can hold. It is available as a syrup and regular tablets.

Treating bedwetting can have a positive influence on your child's life. The frustrations and embarrassment of bedwetting can be overcome with the help of an effective treatment plan. Speak to your doctor to learn more about how to manage your child's bedwetting.

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