Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Bed-wetting is urinating in bed during the night in children over the age of 5. It is the result of too much urine production at night, insufficient bladder capacity and a reduced stimulus to wake up with a full bladder.

Sporadic bed-wetting is common (5-10% at the age of 7), with an annual cure probability of 15%. Of bed-wetters, 7% still experience this issue during puberty. Bed-wetting is often a family problem.

Considering that bed-wetting weighs on a child from a psychological point of view, the doctor will propose treatment from the age of 6-7 years old.

Diagnosis and treatment

How is the diagnosis determined?

  • Urine analysis
  • Pee calendar: the doctor will ask you to keep a pee calendar. This calendar indicates the volume of the bladder, the urine production at night and the quantity of liquids drunk at which time of day.
  • In order to exclude structural body abnormalities, uroflowmetry (measurement of the urethra) and an ultrasound scan of the abdomen and kidneys are usually performed.

Treatment

The doctor will first recommend behavioural changes: adapting eating and drinking habits, avoiding drinks that stimulate the bladder such as coke, (sometimes) setting up a wake-up system late at night and rewarding the child when she stays dry. Continuous and sustained motivation of the child by her parents is and remains essential for bed-wetting.

In addition, in some cases bed-wetting is treated with a bed-wetting alarm: as soon as the nappy becomes minimally wet, an alarm goes off. By getting used to it, the child learns to get up before urinating: bed-wetting is thus avoided.

In some cases, bed-wetting is additionally treated with medication.

  • Desmopressin when urine production at night is too high
  • Anticholinergics in case of a small bladder capacity

Treatment centres and specialisations

Urology Centre
Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 25/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Ameye Filip, Dr Degraeuwe Jelle