What is Nocturnal Enuresis?
Bed wetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue among many children. The World Journal of Nephrology states that up to 25% of children 4 years of age, up to 10% of children 8 years of age and up to 3% of children 12 years of age suffer from this condition. It also appears to be twice as common in boys. Generally, night time accidents before age 7 aren’t of huge concern, since your child is still developing night time bladder control. However, it can be embarassing for the child and cause shame, fear, sadness and frustration. Parents may feel similar emotions while trying to support their child during this time.
What are some causes?
There are many factors that can contribute to bed wetting. Some include:
- Stressful event (ex. parental divorce, birth of a sibling, school trauma, abuse)
- Genetics (44 – 77% if one or both parents had nocturnal enuresis, respectively)
- Hormonal imbalance (decrease in ADH – which helps reduce nighttime urine production)
- Sleep disturbances (snoring or sleep apnea)
- Side effects to medications
- Nervous system interference (inability of body to sense a full bladder)
- Small bladder
- Urinary tract infection
- Psychosocial factors (ADHD can increase incident of bed wetting)
How can a parent help?
So, how do you help your child overcome their bed wetting? There are multiple resources that exist for treating or helping your child overcome his/her night time bed wetting (see list below). One solution that has been documented in multiple medical journals is chiropractic adjustments.
Chiropractic for Bed Wetting
As a pediatric and prenatal chiropractor, I’ve seen excellent results in office regarding the resolution of bed wetting in our patients using chiropractic adjustments. One of the coolest things (and why I love treating children) is that they often don’t always have traditional back pain when they come to our office. They have body issues, like constipation, headaches, nocturnal enuresis, sleep issues, reflux, etc. Sometimes they are too young to tell us they’re hurting so their body SHOWS us. How amazing is that?
Picture this…..you child’s body is a garden, and his/her nervous system acts as a water hose. If there is a kink in the hose, the garden doesn’t get all the water/nutrients it needs and cannot grow properly. This is essentially the role nerves and the nervous system play in our bodies and our child’s body. If there is joint misalignment (subluxation) or decreased movement in the spine (a “stuck” joint), the nervous system cannot communicate properly to the organs that it controls, causing improper function. How cool is that?
Chiropractic adjustments add healthy motion to the spine, correct the joint that is out of place and restore proper function to the body. It can then function better. Chiropractic treatment and adjustments for kids are easy, extremely gentle and effective! We focus on the low back and pelvis, which is where the nerves come from that control the bladder and other important urinary system components that can lead to bed wetting when not functioning properly. Adjustments are a great (and gentle) way to help support your child and be on your way to dry nights!
Other tips and tricks
Here are a few other tips and resources, in addition to chiropractic care, to help your child through bed wetting:
- Rewards chart to get them excited about dry nights and positive progress
- Waking your child up a night to use the bathroom
- Retention control training (helping your child hold their bladder longer during the day)
- Stop-Start training to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
During the process of helping your child overcome their nocturnal enuresis, it can be helpful to use waterproof sheeting or training pads to protect the mattress and/or bedding. There’s also several cloth night time underwear options (vs traditional pull ups or disposable night time training pants) such as Peejamas that help give your child confidence at night. These can be worn during sleepovers and will provide discrete protection, especially in the older children.
Don’t forget, you are not alone as a parent if your child has issues with bed wetting at night. Be patient, be kind and reach out when you need help. And while nocturnal enuresis can be a normal part of development for many children, you should talk to your health care provider if you ever notice the following associated symptoms:
- Painful urination
- Unusual thirst
- Discolored urine (pink or red)
- Hard stools