Bedwetting may be hereditary and is often outgrown, but if it continues beyond age five a medical evaluation by a urologist with an interest in this field is important.
A large-scale study shows that bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is up to seven times higher among children with one parent who had the condition as a child, and about 11 times higher if both parents were bedwetters.
Dr Nico Lourens, from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, says in these cases, parents should feel reassured that like them, their children will probably outgrow the condition. Interventions may be needed, but most children will achieve dryness.
“If a parent is concerned about their child wetting the bed frequently after age five, they should consult a urologist about various interventions, including lifestyle changes relating to liquid intake and sleep and in some cases, medication.”
He said that while up to 25% of children may wet their bed at age five, this drops to about five percent of 12-year-olds and only one percent of those aged 16.
He added that bedwetting contributes to poor sleep and is usually very stressful for both parents and the child. “Parents should make sure their children know that bedwetting is not their fault, that they’re not behaving badly and that there are solutions.”
Dr Lourens said indications of more serious conditions may include children who wet themselves during the day, especially after previously achieving dryness, those with recurrent urinary tract infections and children who cross their legs to suppress the urge to pass urine. The two main factors that play a role in bedwetting are bladder capacity that hasn’t fully developed and increased urine production at night.
Meanwhile, the large-scale Danish study suggests genetic influence on bedwetting is located in deep brain areas responsible for regulation of day-night rhythms, urine production and sleep. “This supports that bedwetting is linked to physiological mechanisms, rather than being caused by psychological problems,” researchers noted.
The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, is the only specialist institution of its kind in Africa, offering unmatched expertise and the latest technology for all urological conditions, including enuresis, incontinence, urinary tract infections and other bladder problems.
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