Kids all across America look forward to summer – the break from school work and exams, the warm weather, long weekends and sleepovers with friends. All kids, that is, except those who still have nighttime accidents. For the millions of children who suffer from bedwetting, these sleepovers and campouts can cause intense stress and frustration. What if their friends find out? Will they be teased and made fun of? Will they stop being invited to these parties because of it?
Despite it being one of the most prevalent childhood conditions, affecting close to 8 million children between the ages of 5 to 17 in the US alone, bedwetting is rarely properly diagnosed and treated. The result is parents and children being told there’s little to be done or “wait, he’ll grow out of it.”
But in the months or even years that it could take a child to grow out of it, he or she will likely experience heightened anxiety, stress and embarrassment. Comparing themselves to younger siblings who do not wet the bed is often done in jest but can cause a lasting mark on their self-esteem. The endless loads of extra laundry and costly pull up products are the least of all the problems.
So what makes a child wet the bed at night when they are able to be accident-free during the day? Is the child just lazy and doesn’t want to get out of bed? And why is it that so many medical professionals don’t have effective solutions or recommendations to help end their patient’s bedwetting nightmares?
In 99% of the cases, the bedwetting is not a result of a medical condition, thankfully. We know this because our bodies use the same urinary system for daytime as nighttime – so if one can remain dry during the day, physiologically, they should be able to do so at night as well. The issue usually is the child suffers from a learning fault that stems from very deep sleep, whereby the child does not recognize the signals to wake up to urinate or be able to hold the muscles tight enough to wait till morning.
In my 30 years of treating enuresis (bedwetting), I have found that achieving this learned technique can best be assisted through a combination of behavioral therapy coupled with the use of an external stimuli, like an enuresis alarm. The alarm is activated when we wet our beds, and over time the brain is trained to respond without that stimuli. The combination of these two methods, rather than relying on just one technique, has raised the success of treatment to over 90%.
I personally know how frustrating it is to see a child wetting the bed night in and night out. Not only did I experience it myself as a child, but I was that parent some thirty-five years ago when my son had accidents nightly. It was that experience that helped me choose to specialize my therapy practice in the psychophysiology of enuresis and dedicate my career to helping people overcome this often neglected condition.
Thankfully, I also know the feeling of watching thousands of children work to overcome bedwetting and the immense pride and confidence it can instill in them.
By taking the basic steps towards recognizing the realities of the condition and educating ourselves to the safe treatments available, summertime can once again become what it’s intended to be – filled with carefree overnights and slumber parties.
JacobSagie, PhD. is a world renowned enuresis specialist and founder of several bedwetting clinics around the world. image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
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Cascia Talbert is a devout Catholic, mother of five children, health and fitness enthusiast and positive parenting supporter. She is also the founder of the award winning online health, fitness, parenting and Christian faith magazine for moms, the Healthy Moms Magazine. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, five children and one spoiled cat. Her hobbies include gardening, country music, running, and playing her flute.
Check out her first book, "Taking Care of your Family's Health and Well-being, Saints to Turn to and the Catholic Faith," available anywhere books are sold.