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Differences in bedwetting from age 5 to age 10

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Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue affecting children across various age groups. Understanding the distinctions between bedwetting in younger children (age 5 and under) and older children (ages 6 to 10) can be crucial for effective management and support.

Bedwetting in children age 5 and under 

For children aged 5 and under, bedwetting is often a frequent occurrence, linked to the natural process of nighttime toilet training. If your 4-year-old wets the bed, try not to worry; it is a common stage of development.

Statistics and causes:

  • Approximately 20% of 5-year-olds experience bedwetting.

  • Many children under 5 who wet the bed have never been fully toilet trained.

  • Even children who have been toilet trained for some time may still have occasional accidents.

Primary causes:

  • Small bladder: Younger children often have smaller bladders, making it difficult to hold urine through the night.

  • Underdeveloped brain-bladder control: The nerves that connect the brain and bladder can be immature, meaning the brain might not wake the child when the bladder is full. This is more likely in deep sleepers.

  • Underdeveloped kidneys: This can lead to the production of excess urine at night, overwhelming the child's ability to wake up in time.

  • Stress: Sudden bedwetting in a child who has been dry for six months may indicate stress.

Treatment approaches:

At this age, bedwetting usually resolves on its own without the need for medical intervention. The key is patience and reassurance. Parents should provide love and support, helping the child understand that bedwetting is not a significant problem.

Absorbent underwear can help manage the issue until the child outgrows bedwetting. If bedwetting persists beyond age 5 or if there are signs of discomfort or pain, consulting a healthcare provider is advisable.

Bedwetting in children age 6 and over 

For older children, bedwetting can be more concerning, particularly if it begins suddenly after a period of dryness. Medical professionals refer to this as nocturnal enuresis.

Statistics and categories:

  • 10% of 7-year-olds and 5% of 10-year-olds experience regular bedwetting.

  • 1-3% of teenagers are also affected.

Two main types of enuresis exist:

  1. Primary enuresis: The child has always wet the bed.

  2. Secondary enuresis: The child had been dry for at least six months before starting to wet the bed again.

Primary causes:

  • Genetics: Bedwetting can run in families. If one parent wet the bed after age 5, their child has a 40% chance of doing the same. This rises to 70% if both parents experienced bedwetting.

  • Stress: Life changes such as moving, changing schools, or family disruptions can trigger secondary enuresis.

  • Deep sleep: Older children may sleep too deeply to wake up in time to use the toilet.

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea: Though rare, it can cause bedwetting due to breathing interruptions.

  • Bladder or kidney problems: Persistent issues with daytime wetting and bedwetting might indicate medical problems, warranting a check-up.

  • Constipation: This can put pressure on the bladder, leading to bedwetting.

  • Other medical conditions: Diabetes or neurological diseases can present with nocturnal enuresis as a symptom.

  • Medications: Some drugs may have bedwetting as a side effect.

Treatment approaches:

Identifying the cause is crucial, with healthcare providers offering tailored treatment plans.

For stress-related bedwetting, addressing the stressors or improving coping mechanisms can be effective.

  • Bedwetting alarms: These devices can help train children to wake up when they need to urinate.

  • Medications: Drugs may be prescribed for short-term relief, although they are not permanent solutions.

Comparing younger and older children

Younger children (age 5 and under):

  • Typically have never grown out of bedwetting.

  • Often due to underdeveloped bladder, kidneys or brain-bladder control.

  • Generally, no treatment is needed as they usually outgrow it.

  • Healthcare provider intervention is rarely necessary.

Older children (age 6 and over):

  • Have been dry for some time but start bedwetting again.

  • Can be caused by stress, genetics, medical conditions or medications.

  • May require treatment to manage and resolve bedwetting.

  • Seeking a healthcare provider's diagnosis and treatment plan is often advisable.

Understanding these differences helps in providing the appropriate support and interventions, ensuring children feel reassured and understood as they navigate this common developmental stage.

If your child has always wet the bed, or has started doing so for the first time recently, we can help. Get in touch to arrange a free 15-minute discovery call today. 

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