"Uh-oh! I wet the bed" may be a common thing to hear in households with young children. But at what point do nights of wet sheets become too many, and how can you tell if your child's bedwetting problem is a normal part of growing up or a medical problem they may need some help with?
In toilet-trained children who have full bladder control, the bladder retains less urine during sleeping hours so that the child can sleep through the night without wetting the bed. But in some children, their bodies have not matured and their urine production does not slow down at night, causing their bladder to overfill - and that's why they wet the bed.
Bedwetting is common and normal in children under the age of 5. But by the time children reach 5 or 6 years of age, bedwetting is something they should have outgrown - and if they haven't, it's no longer just considered an annoying part of growing up. It's considered a medical problem. About 15% to 20% of 5-year-olds are affected by bedwetting.
In Canada, more than 500,000 children suffer from bedwetting. And it's a problem that is twice as common in boys as in girls.
But what's considered normal, and what merits treatment? Wet sheets may just be something you have to put up with as the result of an occasional accident, but if your child wets the bed more than twice per month, it's considered a problem. As well, if your child starts to wet the bed after a long period of dry nights or if they experience painful or pink urination, unusual thirst, or snoring, it could be a sign of a medical problem that goes beyond bedwetting.
Although bedwetting itself is a medical problem, most children who wet the bed are otherwise healthy. But if your child wets the bed after age 5 or 6, you should always talk to their doctor. The doctor can rule out any additional, possibly serious, medical causes that are contributing to the problem, as well as work with you to help you decide what tools you will choose to reduce the impact of bedwetting on your child's - and your whole family's - life.
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