What Is Bed Wetting?

Bed wetting is simply wetting the bed while you are asleep in your bed. The scientific name for bed wetting is nocturnal enuresis or sometimes it is simply called enuresis. Some people also refer to it as sleep wetting. Bed wetting is very common among children, boys more so than girls. It is believed that approximately five to seven million children experience this problem. Doctors classify bed wetters as girls who are older than four years and boys who are over five years who chronically wet their beds during sleep. The tendency to wet the bed however does decrease as a child gets older. Studies have shown that approximately ten percent of six-year-old youngsters wet their beds routinely while this number decreases to three percent for fourteen year olds. It is rare but it does happen that bed wetting contuse to plague both older teenagers and even adults. This problem can be very minor to serious and cause a great deal of distress and embarrassment for the person involved.

Bed wetting is often broken down into two categories, that of primary enuresis (or primary bed wetting) and secondary enuresis. Primary enuresis means that the be wetting is consistent night after night and that the child in question never sleeps through a night without wetting the bed and/or has the occasional night when he or she remains dry. Secondary enuresis means that bed wetting commences or recommences after a child has been consistently dry at night for a particular length of time (such as a matter of weeks).

Chronic bed wetting or primary enuresis is believed to have a genetic link. In other words if your father or great aunt had the same problem when they were young then you are more likely to develop it than those who don’t have a family history of it. It is also believed that it could be related to a sleep pattern that is so deep that they are unaware that their brain is trying to tell them that they must wake themselves up, go to the bathroom and empty their bladder. Another cause of chronic bed wetting is a “physically and/or neurologically immature bladder.” In other words the nervous system and bladder are connected and in some children the central nervous system is slower to develop and therefore makes it more difficult for the child to be in control of nighttime bladder functions.

Other causes of primary enuresis include urinary tract infections that have not been diagnosed; hormonal factors such as not having enough of the antidiuretic hormone which serves to decrease the quantity of urine that is manufactured by the kidneys; spinal cord abnormalities; a small bladder that will not hold any amount of urine for a lengthy period of time; problems with the ureter in boys or girls and for boys only, problems that may exist in their urethral valves.

Bladder control is a unique lesson that is not learned by all children at exactly the same time. The average child has no bed wetting problems beyond age five but there are many exceptions to this rule.