Enuresis (urinary incontinence)
The treatment of choice for nocturnal enuresis is the alarm because it has a higher success rate and when you stop it more kids stay dry. If the alarm works, you don?t wet the bed anymore. We prescribe medication when parents have tried the alarm and it doesn't work.
Leonard Rappaport, MD, Chief, Division of Developmental Medicine
Does your daughter keep waking up in a wet bed? Does your son wet his pants at school, or while playing with friends? Do these accidents keep happening despite your efforts to help your child control his or her bladder?
Enuresis is a medical name for accidental urination in children who should be able to have control of their bladders — by age four for daytime control and by age six for nighttime control.
It can be frustrating for parents and embarrassing for kids, but rest assured that you — and your child — will make it through this difficult time.
There are different types of urinary accidents that may occur, including the following:
- diurnal enuresis — wetting during the day
- nocturnal enuresis — wetting during the night
- primary enuresis —wetting in a child who has never been dry during the day or night
- secondary enuresis — occurs if your child did have a period of dryness, but then returned to having periods of daytime and/or nighttime wetting
If your child has enuresis, you may be worried. We’ve compiled some facts and figures about the fairly common condition to give you context:
- It affects about 10 to 20 percent of first-grade boys.
- It affects about 8 to 17 percent of first-grade girls.
- About 15 percent of all 5-year-olds have nighttime bedwetting.
- About 7 percent of 8-year-olds have nighttime bedwetting.
- Of the children with enuresis, 74 percent of them have wetting at night, 10 percent have wetting during the day and 16 percent have both.
How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches enuresis
As part of our renowned Department of Urology, Boston Children's Hospital has a dedicated Voiding Improvement Program (VIP). VIP's expert physicians and nurse practitioners take a comprehensive approach to helping children overcome voiding difficulties.
In addition, Children's understands that enuresis can cause emotional problems for your child. Our Division of Developmental Medicine is uniquely qualified to treat your whole child—physically and psychologically. A compassionate team of professionals address your child’s physical symptoms and emotional well-being and help your child stay dry day and night.
For more information about treatment options, see the Treatment & Care section.
There are many books that can help you learn about coping with enuresis and what it means for your child.
One good, no-nonsense book is written by a physician at Children’s:
The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Potty Training Problems by Alison Schonwald, MD, a physician in the Division of Developmental Medicine.
Enuresis: Reviewed by Leonard Rappaport, MD, MS, and Kimberly Dunn, PNP.
© Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010