All about urinary incontinence in children

If your child is over the age of five and still experiences two or more wetting episodes per month, speak to your family doctor.

Saying goodbye to nappies is a big milestone for your child. However, while some children stay dry during the day and night after being potty trained – or only experience the odd accident now and then – a small percentage of children suffer urinary incontinence long after being toilet-trained.

What is enuresis?

It is typical for children under three to lack full bladder control. As children grow older, they gain control of their bladder. Enuresis (urinary incontinence) occurs when a child is old enough to regulate their bladder and wets themselves. Enuresis can occur at any time of day or night. Enuresis can be frustrating. However, it is critical to be patient and remember that it is not your child’s fault. There are numerous strategies to treat enuresis and assist your child.

The different types of enuresis

There are four types of enuresis. A child may have one or more of these types:

  • Night-time (nocturnal) enuresis: This means wetting during the night. It’s often called bedwetting. It’s the most common type of enuresis. Bedwetting or night-time incontinence affects about 30% of children at age four, 10% at age seven, 3% at age 12, and 1% at age 18.
  • Daytime (diurnal) enuresis: This is wetting during the day.
  • Primary enuresis: This happens when a child has not fully mastered toilet training.
  • Secondary enuresis: This is when a child has a period of dryness but then returns to having periods of wetting.

When does enuresis become a problem?

Many children get enuresis on occasion. Some children may take longer than others to learn to manage their bladder. Girls frequently have better bladder control than boys. As a result, girls are diagnosed with enuresis earlier than boys. Girls as young as five years old can be diagnosed. Boys are not diagnosed until they are at least six years old.

What causes enuresis?

There are numerous reasons for enuresis. However, one or more of the following factors could be one of the possible causes:

  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity/attention deficit disorder (ADHD)
  • Constipation that causes bladder pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Insufficient antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in the body during sleep.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
  • Bladder hyperactivity
  • Delayed physical growth
  • Bladder size
  • Urinary tract structural issues
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Bedwetting and daytime incontinence can run in the family, too. Chances are greater that a child will have urinary incontinence if a parent had it and even greater if both parents wet the bed or their pants during childhood.

How is enuresis treated?

Treatment is determined by what is causing your child’s bladder problems. Changes in bladder and bowel patterns, moisture alarms at night, and medication are common methods for treating enuresis in children.

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