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Time To Take Action: World Bedwetting Day 2021

For World Bedwetting Day 2021 Bladder & Bowel UK are releasing a series of blogs to help increase understanding of a problem that is not often discussed, but causes stress and distress throughout the world to children, young people, and their families as well as some adults.

What is World Bedwetting Day and why is it important?

World Bedwetting Day was launched by the International Children’s Continence Society and the European Society for Paediatric Urology in 2015. The aim is to raise awareness of bedwetting and its impact on children, young people and their families. Bedwetting is not a trivial condition and not all children get better with time. Those children who are wet five or more nights a week are least likely to get better without treatment. Bedwetting continues to affect about 1 – 3% of teenagers and 0.5 – 1% of adults.

What is bedwetting?

Bedwetting, also known as enuresis or nocturnal enuresis, is the condition of wetting the bed during sleep. It is a recognised medical problem in children who are at least five years old and have been toilet trained during the day.

What causes bedwetting?

It used to be thought that it is a straight-forward condition that would get better on its own, in time. However, it is now known that it can be a complex disorder, which has several different causes.

Bedwetting is not caused by a psychological problem or stress, although these may make bedwetting worse and can arise because of the bedwetting.

  • Bedwetting is caused by a combination of:
  • The kidneys making too much urine overnight.
  • The bladder being too small or not working well enough to be able to hold the urine made at night.
  • The affected child or adult not being able to wake up to the messages from the bladder to the brain saying that the bladder needs to empty.

Are there any other problems associated with bedwetting?

Many younger children and their families are not concerned about bedwetting.  However, as children become more socially aware, they can become upset by it. It can affect their self-confidence and self-esteem and their emotional wellbeing. Although children do not wake up when they need to empty their bladder, the messages from the bladder may disturb their sleep, and so have an impact on their day-to-day functioning, including their school performance.

Bedwetting can also be stressful for families. However, it is important to remember that bedwetting is not due to anything you or your child has or has not done. It is a medical condition and not anyone’s fault.

Should we ask for help?

Successful treatment improves brain and psychological functioning, reduces problems with sleep and behaviour, improves self-esteem and reduces stress and embarrassment.  Active treatment, with an alarm or medication, can be offered from five years old with initial lifestyle advice being helpful for many children, including those who have not yet reached their fifth birthday.

Where can we get help and advice?

Your child’s healthcare professional (health visitor, school nurse, or GP) should be able to provide initial advice and support. If the bedwetting does not improve with some simple lifestyle adjustments, then they may be able to discuss options with you or refer you to a local clinic for further assessment and treatment.

Where can I find more information?

Bladder & Bowel UK is a national charity that provides information that is free to access, download and print about bladder and bowel conditions and management solutions for people of all ages on their website here. Information on bedwetting is available here.

There is also information on bedwetting on the Stop Bedwetting website. There is information about World Bedwetting Day available here.

Bladder & Bowel UK produce a free quarterly electronic newsletter for the public called Talk About, which is full of interesting articles, suggestions and information for people affected by bladder and bowel conditions. To receive this fill in the form here and ask to be added to the mailing list.

You can contact the Bladder & Bowel UK confidential helpline by filling in the web form or phoning us on 0161 214 4591.

This World Bedwetting Day, Take Action, and contact your healthcare professional if bedwetting is a problem for you or your child.


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