Bed Wetting (Noctural Enuresis)
Approximately 15 to 20 per cent of five- and six-year-olds wet the bed, but some teenagers also have problems.
Enuresis - the medical name for bedwetting - is the involuntary passing of urine and the most common form of bedwetting among children is nocturnal enuresis, ie that which occurs at night.
Frequent bedwetting is common in children up to the age of six. The child should not be put under pressure if younger than six - children do not wet the bed on purpose.
Approximately 15 to 20 per cent of all five- and six-year-olds wet the bed and most of them are boys. With teenagers, the figure is 2 to 3 per cent up to 14 and 1 per cent at 15 or over.
Why do children wet the bed?
Most children who wet the bed have done it all their life and in many cases no reason can be found.
Often it is passed on through the family. Bedwetting also happens, or has happened, to a close relative in up to 85 per cent of cases. About 57 per cent of children who wet their beds either have a brother, sister or a parent who has experienced the same problem.
It may have a medical or psychological cause such as cystitis, diabetes, problems at school, at home, or the divorce of parents.
One explanation could be that these children are heavy sleepers who do not wake up when their bladder is full. Also, some children develop bladder control later than others.
At night, some children produce too little of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which controls the production of urine. A nasal spray containing desmopressin may help. The child needs to be examined by a doctor who will then decide whether treatment is necessary.
Diagnostic and statistical manual criteria (DSM)
Research: Banerjee S. Srivastav A. Palan BM. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis in the management of nocturnal enuresis: a comparative study with imipramine therapy.
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1993;36(2):113-9
Various therapeutic modalities have been used for treating enuresis due to the lack of a single identifiable cause. We carried out a comparative study of imipramine and direct hypnotic suggestions with imagery used for the management of functional nocturnal enuresis. Enuretic children, ranging in age from 5 to 16 years, underwent 3 months of therapy with imipramine (N = 25) or hypnosis (N = 25).
After termination of the active treatment, the hypnosis group continued practicing self-hypnosis daily during the follow-up period of another 6 months.
Of the patients treated with imipramine, 76% had a positive response (all dry beds); for patients treated with hypnotic strategies, 72% responded positively. At the 9-month follow-up, 68% of patients in the hypnosis group maintained a positive response, whereas only 24% of the imipramine group did.
Hypnosis and self-hypnosis strategies were found to be less effective in younger children (5-7 years old) compared to imipramine treatment. The treatment response was not related to the hypnotic responsivity of the patient in either group.