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How do I Choose the Best Bedwetting Treatment?

By M. West
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bedwetting treatment options include behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, bladder training exercises, and medication. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be helpful as well. As drugs can have side effects, these are considered as a last resort, rather than a first choice. Be careful not to embarrass or shame your child, and avoid discussing the problem with others while in his or her presence. It is encouraging to know that, in most cases, bedwetting is a temporary problem and will eventually be outgrown even without treatment.

Lifestyle changes should be implemented before more aggressive bedwetting treatment is employed. Limit the child's fluid intake to 8 ounces (237 milliliters) in the evening, unless he is engaging in sports or vigorous exercise during that period. At mid-afternoon, avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as chocolate and soft drinks. At the end of the bedtime ritual, encourage the child to urinate. Leave a small night light on so he can more easily find his way to the bathroom.

Behavioral therapy involves the use of a moisture alarm, which can be purchased without a prescription at a local drugstore. These small mechanisms attach to a moisture-sensitive piece of the child's sleepwear or bedding. The alarm will go off when urination starts, thus enabling him to awaken and get to the bathroom. Two weeks may be required before an improvement is noted, and 12 weeks may be necessary before complete success is experienced. This bedwetting treatment is preferred over medication, as it works well and has only a low risk of side effects.

Bladder training exercises have a positive effectiveness rate. This treatment consists of encouraging children to hold their urine for gradually lengthening periods in the daytime. Another option is motivational therapy, which involves the use of a chart, where gold stars are used to indicate dry nights. Once the chart is filled with stars, you may allow your child to pick out a small treat. This method has a lower effectiveness rate, and three to six months are considered necessary for an adequate trial period.

When other measures fail and the problem seems severe enough, doctors may prescribe a medication as a bedwetting treatment. One of the most frequently used drugs is desmopressin acetate, which acts as an anti-diuretic. This medicine has the potential to cause seizures if taken with too many fluids. It should not be administered on nights when the child has consumed a lot of liquids, or on occasions when he feels nauseated or has a headache.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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