What is Enuresis?

Felicia Dye

Enuresis refers to involuntary urination. When a person urinates while sleeping, this is called nocturnal enuresis. This is a condition that affects mostly children, but it can also occur in adults.

Primary enuresis generally refers to a child who has not developed the ability to stop wetting the bed during sleep.
Primary enuresis generally refers to a child who has not developed the ability to stop wetting the bed during sleep.

There are two forms of this condition. Primary enuresis generally refers to a child who has not developed the ability to stop wetting the bed on a regular basis. Secondary enuresis generally refers to any person who can control his or her bladder, but later reverts to bedwetting.

Parents are discouraged from viewing this as a behavioral or mental problem. Bedwetting is not typically a sign of a lazy or rebellious child. Many children have developed nighttime control of their bladders by the time they turn 6 years old. This is not a standard that every child will reach, however. Girls generally develop the ability to control their bladders during sleep before boys.

There are many suspected causes for enuresis. One cause that people tend to be least aware of is genetics. Some health officials believe that bedwetting is trait passed throughout families. It can also be the result of deep sleep, a urinary tract infection, or stress.

Children who wet the bed in their sleep are typically in good physical health. There are some theories that connect psychological problems and enuresis in children. Those medical professionals who subscribe to such theories generally agree that these cases are the minority. Less is understood, however, about adult bedwetting.

If a child is taken to seek medical treatment for this problem, the physician is likely to ask questions about the child’s bathroom habits both during the day and at night. It is also likely that he will do a urine test. This can reveal if the child has certain infections.

Some physicians believe that enuresis is connected with a child’s emotional state. It is common during a medical consultation about bedwetting for a physician to ask about the child’s home life. In some case, the physician may suggest changes that involve the parents. He may also suggest limiting fluids around bedtime, asking the child to change soiled sheets, or offering rewards for nights without bedwetting.

For older children and adults, bedwetting alarms are often suggested. The idea is to train a person to get up and use the bathroom. This treatment option is not always immediately successful. Some people may experience problems hearing the alarm and recognizing it as a signal to go to bathroom. Others may simply experience difficulty teaching their bodies to act in a different way.

There are medications that can be prescribed for some cases of enuresis. One type of drug provides a synthetic hormone that decreases the amount of urine that the body produces. The other drug options are bladder relaxers, which allow larger capacity to be held.

Medication is usually not advised or offered until several other measures have been attempted. One reason physicians are typically hesitant with these drugs is that they do not cure bedwetting. The problem is likely to return if a person stops taking the medication and no other corrective measures have been used.

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