This blog is the last in the Bladder & Bowel UK series written for World Bedwetting Week, and focuses on what to expect from your GP, school nurse or health visitor.
Other blogs published this week have provided information on lifestyle changes that may help, the treatment that is available, why bedwetting should be treated, the myths and facts surrounding the condition, information for teenagers and adults and tips to help you manage.
This blog is about the support you can get from your healthcare professional
GP’s, School Nurses and Health Visitors are part of the team of health professionals called universal services. They are your initial support for bedwetting. They should complete an assessment and provide some advice and discuss treatment options.
Bedwetting is considered a medical condition from the age of five. It is a common in younger children and while some do get better with time, not all will. Children who are wet most nights are least likely to get better without treatment and, what is less well known, is that bedwetting can continue into adulthood or start again after a time of being dry.
Therefore, you should see your healthcare professional if bedwetting is happening more than two nights a week, if it has started after being dry at night for six months or more, if you are a teenager or adult, or if it is worrying or upsetting.
What does an assessment involve?
You (or your child, if they have bedwetting) may be asked to keep records of wet nights and of bowel actions (poos) for a week or two. The healthcare professional may also want a bladder diary. The bladder diary is a record of which fluids and how much have been drunk over two or three days. You will also need to write down when the toilet is used and how much urine is passed. Most children will need help to keep the bladder diary and it should be done over a weekend, or during school holidays.
The information you keep about wet nights, bowels, drinking and passing urine will allow the health professional to see how well the bowel and bladder are working. There is a bladder diary, with instructions on how to complete it on the Bladder & Bowel UK website – www.bbuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Baseline-Bladder-Diary-paediatric-Bladder-Bowel-UK.pdf – or your healthcare professional may provide one.
It is likely that your healthcare professional will ask questions about how long the bedwetting has been happening, about general health, and medical history. For children you may be asked about toilet training. it is important to also tell the health professional about any problems with toileting during the day, including damp, wet or soiled underwear, having to get to the toilet quickly, or going more often than usual: most people need to pass urine (wee) 5-7 times a day.
Your healthcare professional should explain to you what they think might be causing the bedwetting and should be able to suggest ways to help. This may include treatment for constipation if that is present, good drinking and toileting routines, as this can help the bladder to work more effectively. Good routines include having a water-based drink about every two hours, avoiding fizzy and caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cola and many energy drinks contain caffeine) and stopping drinks an hour before bed. They may also suggest medication as this is helpful for some.
Dependent on the bedwetting symptoms and any progress that is made with following advice they give, your health care professional may, after discussion with you, be able to refer to a local specialist bladder and bowel service or bedwetting service for further assessment and support. There are specialist bladder and bowel services for adults throughout the UK and there are specialist children’s services in many areas. Where there is no children’s service, your child may be referred to a paediatrician.
Therefore, this World Bedwetting Week if you, or your child is affected by bedwetting, ask the GP for advice and support. If it is your child that is affected, you could speak to their school nurse or Health Visitor.
Where can I get more help?
You can find more information about bedwetting and other bladder and bowel conditions on the Bladder & Bowel UK website. Information for adults is at www.bbuk.org.uk/adults/adults-resources. Information for children is at www.bbuk.org.uk/children-young-people/resources-for-children. You can contact the Bladder & Bowel UK helpline for free confidential advice – www.bbuk.org.uk/enquiries.