Jan 30, 2014

Dr. Cindy Gellner: Bedwetting, should you be worried about it or not? I'm Doctor Cindy Gellner, and we'll explore that next on The Scope.

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Dr. Cindy Gellner: So I get asked about bedwetting a lot. It's actually something that's very common in kids, and it's something that a lot of people don't like to talk about. So the one thing I want you to remember is it's not your child's fault that this is happening. That's one thing a lot of parents get really frustrated with is, ah, they wet the bed again.
Don't worry. One, it's not your child's fault. Okay? Remember that. Two, the main reason it's not your child's fault is because your child's bladder is not as developed as yours, and so it takes longer for your bladder to know how long to hold the pee, and when is a good time for it to let go of the pee. And quite often the bladder just doesn't realize when that time is, and just leaks.
Kids that are deep sleepers have this a whole lot more than others. The big thing that's also a risk factor for bedwetting is family history. If you have a family history of bedwetting, then you're going to probably have a child who bed wets as well.
So another question I get asked is, how long is this going to go on? Again, it depends on your family history. There are a lot of people, where this will continue up until age 12. That's not unusual. Most kids between the ages of 6 and 10 will overcome this problem by themselves. Even without treatment, all children eventually will get over this.
So how can you help your child through this? The first thing you can do is to help them get up and go to the bathroom during the night. Set an alarm, and when it goes off, no matter how sleepy your child is, get them to get up and go potty. Make sure there's a nightlight in the bathroom so they can find their way to the bathroom easily while they're still half asleep.
Encourage them to drink during the day. After dinnertime, stop the fluids. So you want to make sure that your child stays hydrated, but you want them to do that by drinking during the day, not after dinnertime.
The other thing that you need to make sure that they do is, before they go to bed, make sure right before they go to bed, not, oh, I did it 15 minutes ago. Right before they go to bed, make sure they go to the bathroom to empty their bladder.
A lot of parents are worried about the bedding. Mattresses are expensive. So the one thing you want to do, you can actually get waterproof mattress covers that will actually help protect the mattress when your child does urinate in the bed.
So you're also going to want to make sure, if they do bed wet, be sure that your child helps change the bed. That will help them also take more responsibility for this, and be more of an incentive for them to stay dry at night.
And if your child is older, you want to make sure that they take a shower in the morning so they don't smell of urine when they go to school. That also can cause teasing.
You're also going to want to respond positively on the nights that they stay dry. Make it a big deal. Make a little reward chart or something. And if they do wet the bed while they're really trying hard to stay dry, just respond gently.
Your child doesn't want to do this. Your child's going to be feeling guilty and embarrassed about this problem. They need your support with this. So the most important thing is for you to be there to say it's okay, I understand your body's not quite ready to stay dry at night. Let's figure out some things we can do together.
Now if your child has been dry for a while, by a while I mean like months, or even years and all of a sudden has new bedwetting, talk to your pediatrician. It could be as simple as there's been a change in something going on in their normal routine. Sometimes a new sibling, sometimes a new school, and they'll start wetting the bed. And sometimes they'll even wet during the day too.
If your child complains that it hurts to pee, go to your pediatrician and have them be checked for a urine infection. Boys rarely get urine infections. That's much less common. Girls, it is much more of a problem, just due to anatomy. So it's always a good idea to get the urine checked on that.
The other thing is, if you're finding that your child is just drinking and drinking and drinking, and peeing and peeing and peeing, and it's way excessive, and they're complaining about belly pain, and you maybe notice like a weird fruity smell from their breath, get the urine checked, get their sugar checked. That's actually one of the first signs of Type 1 diabetes.
So if you've tried all these tips. You've tried the waking up. You've tried everything we've been talking about here, and you've talked to your pediatrician about things, then you may want to start talking about some medications.
Bedwetting is going to usually stop by age 12. So most kids, after about a year of medication, they're able to stop it. This is something that's very important, and it can actually help your child's self-esteem, if you get your child involved in taking care of his bedwetting, and support him, or her, through this whole process.

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