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Introduction to Bedwetting
Bedwetting is rarely the child’s fault, yet can lead to so much upset in the family.
Around 15% of children over 5 are not dry at night. Children can wet the bed into their teens, and it is more common in boys, and in hyperactive children. But most eventually get there – only 2% of teenagers, and less than 1% of adults, wet the bed.
Bedwetting in a child who has never been completely dry, is called ‘primary nocturnal enuresis’. Bedwetting that begins after the child has been dry, is called ‘secondary nocturnal enuresis’.
Parents can be very distressed by bedwetting. Naturally, it makes extra housework, and this is depressing, tiring and expensive. Marriages can suffer. Drying the sheets can be a practical difficulty. I can only repeat, it is very rarely the child's fault.
Worse than this are the things parents tell themselves: “If my child wets, I am a bad parent”; “My child does not love me”; “It’s my fault, I’m doing something wrong”. If you feel angry or upset, if you find yourself ridiculing or humiliating your child, or if you feel as if you should ‘discipline your child out of the habit’, take care. These roads lead to more unhappiness. Parents need support, from partners, friends and family, and medical staff. You can find lots more information from the support organisations listed in Links.
Allergies can irritate the bladder, cause its walls to swell up, and reduce its holding capacity. They also increase the urge to urinate. Experiment with eliminating all of the common causes for at least 1 month: wheat, eggs, soya, milk & dairy products, and chocolate. Sometimes, corn/maize. Sometimes, additives. Sometimes, citrus fruit. If this helps, re-introduce one by one, with at least a week between.
Genetics. It is a fact that if you were a bedwetter, your children are more likely to be. The chances increase further if both parents have a history of bedwetting.
Diabetes. Urinating a lot and drinking a lot can be signs. See your doctor for a check.
Bladder (water) infection/irritation. Children may not realize that it should not be uncomfortable to urinate – one of the signs of infection. Infection or irritation can also be caused by genetic or developmental problems in the urinary tubes, because the bladder does not empty completely. Infection can be treated by antibiotics or natural remedies, but irritation needs a different approach. See your doctor for a check.
General infection such as a cold, or recurrent throat infections.
Emotional Upset. Sometimes hard to spot, especially if it is you, the parent, they are upset about! Children may have trouble expressing anxiety, fear, or anger, so you may not know. Consider if anything may have been happening that your child, young and impressionable, might find disconcerting. Exampl;es: Moving house; parent changing jobs/career or losing a job; change of children’s school; arguments, (especially long term and when you think they don’t know); new babies or step-children; having a parent or parents who are quite critical, demanding or impatient; bereavement, or a split in the family. I am sure you could add to this list – see it through the child’s eyes. Sexual abuse must also be considered. Counselling can be helpful, and homeopathic treatment can help the child adjust.
Small Bladder and other physical causes. Until the bladder grows properly, it may not hold enough for a whole night. Also, some children do not yet produce adequate amounts of the hormone (vasopressin) that inhibits urinating at night.
Fizzy drinks, as they only stimulate the child to wee more. Cola and drinks containing caffeine are especially bad, as caffeine is a diuretic – it increases urination.
Constipation can contribute to bedwetting, because it may put pressure on the bladder. Key ways to avoid constipation include: adequate water; exercise; eating fruit, vegetables or other sources of fibre; avoiding frequent laxatives; relaxing and having enough time to go to the toilet properly. A Natural Health Answers Report can suggest more remedies for constipation, chosen specially to suit your child.
Punishing yourself or your child. Please consider the notes above, in the Introduction.
Water. The child should drink plenty of water in the daytime (1.5-2 pints, six to eight glasses), but not the evening. This is difficult for children who are afraid of wetting, or who are not naturally thirsty; they need encouragement, and monitoring. Check what is available at school.
Contrary to what you might expect, adequate water is essential for healthy kidney and bladder function, and will not irritate, as chemical-filled soft drinks can. Cola is a diuretic! Concentrated urine, caused by not drinking enough, also irritates the bladder, increasing the urge to urinate. Adequate water also helps prevent constipation, another cause of bedwetting.
Protect the bed. Use plastic protection on the bed.
Pads. Some children will agree to wear pads.
Make it easy for them to get to the toilet at night, eg. leave a light on.
Keep to their own bed. Encourage your child to return to their own bed, once it is changed. They may see staying in your bed as a reward!
Cleanliness. Keep the child well washed, to avoid skin problems and smell from urine. Other children will soon detect any smell, and start name-calling, the last thing your child needs.
Plan carefully for trips away; check what facilities are available.
Alarms. Older children can benefit from an alarm clock, waking them before the time they usually wet. And consider alarm systems, below.
Bladder Training. Older children can try this. This means that in the daytime, when they feel the need to urinate, they deliberately ‘hold on’ a few minutes. The time is gradually increased. It can help improve bladder capacity, and confidence. Do not do this if it leads to wetting themselves – see the doctor. Best done with some professional guidance.
Strengthen the Pelvic Floor. Older children can understand pelvic floor exercises. The pelvic floor muscles help to control urination, and may be weak. Being unable to control urination in the daytime is often a sign of a weak pelvic floor. More details of these exercises on the sites listed in Links, or contact me.
Laundry. You can save money by laundering sheets and pyjamas on just the rinse cycle, if they are freshly wet, and not dirty.
See Links for more useful information and support!
1. Some interesting technology has been brought to bear on this problem. Alarm systems can wake the child at certain times, or at the first sign of wetness. Alarm systems work best with children over 6 who have never been dry, not those who have suddenly started wetting. In one trial, children using wetness alarms improved by an average of 4 extra dry nights a week. When the alarm system was discontinued, about half the children were still dry after 3 months, while the other half relapsed. These systems can be expensive.
2. Some doctors prescribe drugs for bedwetting, such as tricyclic anti-depressants, and Desmopressin. Research results for these are not as good as for alarm systems, and they expose your child to the risk of side-effects.
It can seem like a good idea to introduce a reward system, like a star chart, for dry nights. In some children, it helps. However, as the majority of children cannot control their wetting, you may be setting them an impossible and confusing task. In any case, most children can see right through these ideas, and still get the feeling they are ‘doing something wrong’.
Certain doctors suggest asking the child to strip the bed, and put the sheets in the washing machine. This ‘remedial training’ is supposed to encourage a sense of responsibility. Again, I believe we cannot expect children to feel responsible for something they cannot control. They are likely to perceive it as punishment.
This herb is useful if there is a urinary (water) infection. It will not help other kinds of bedwetting. Cranberry helps stop the bacteria attaching to the wall of the bladder, and can offer a natural alternative to anti-biotics. The easiest way for children to use cranberry is as a liquid. Half a cup of a cranberry drink, three times a day, can help with infections. (Older children can take capsules of cranberry extract.)
Most cartons of cranberry juice contain sugar, sweeteners, or both. Biona produce a pure unsweetened cranberry concentrate. On the other hand, cranberry is extremely sour, and most of us would like some sweetening! I recommend sugar rather than sweeteners, which have their own risks. Brush teeth afterwards. Anyone with a urinary infection should also drink plenty of water.
Cranberry must not be used with blood-thinning medication.
Plantain has been traditionally used for bedwetting, though I have no experience of this. This very safe herb is available as drops by Vogel or Viridian.
This can really help a child with emotional difficulties. For example, some children become so upset by the stress in the household, due to their bedwetting, that it makes them worse. Some children only begin bedwetting due to anxiety, bereavement, or fear. Commonly, children can be affected by parents who have very high standards, or those who are critical or domineering. Look for a counsellor who specializes in children. Parents also benefit from counselling support, as years of bedwetting can be most distressing, and can also lead to relationship problems.
Sorry – information removed for reconstruction. Please see special note at end of page.
2. Other homeopathic remedies Phosphorus Sorry – information removed for reconstruction. Please see special note at end of page. Pulsatilla Sorry – information removed for reconstruction. Please see special note at end of page. Kreosotum Sorry – information removed for reconstruction. Please see special note at end of page.
Homeopathy works best when treating the whole person, so many factors are taken into account in addition to bedwetting. If you are interested in a more personalized prescription for yourself or your child, a Natural Health Answers Report will provide up to 6 remedies chosen to match your situation.
If you do not live locally, an Online Homeopathic Consultation is a more in-depth solution, involving a full health history and individual prescription, with ongoing support.
3. No homeopathic remedy should be taken for more than 1 month without supervision.
Note: Reconstruction of homeopathic sections of website
Changes in UK law oblige me to remove suggested usage from specific homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy is still entirely legal, and available just as before, but medicines are now categorised as ‘’unlicensed products’. I apologise for this inconvenience. It is my opinion that restricting this information makes the use of homeopathic medicines less accurate and reliable for the general public.
Although I cannot give general guidelines on the website, you may still consult me, or another qualified homeopath, as an individual client. As this is more time-consuming, I may have to charge for this service.
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