Potty training a child is no easy feat. It’s a parenting achievement when your child can already use the commode and there’s no need to buy diapers anymore. This is why it can also be alarming for parents when, even after months of successful potty-training, they find that their child has wet bedsheets in the morning.
When this happens, parents will often be told that bedwetting is a normal part of development. “[Bedwetting] is very common. It’s called enuresis and happens to children, toilet-trained or not, and even to adults. Enuresis or the involuntary discharge of urine during sleep,” pediatrician Dr. Susan Bolante-Kapalungan told Smart Parenting. “It is perfectly normal even if it occurs six months to a year after successful toilet training. Usually, the condition will pass as they get older,” she added.
But parents shouldn’t be complacent. According to pediatric urologist Dr. Steve Hodges, there are instances where a child does not outgrow bedwetting. In his practice, often times, the real cause of the problem is constipation. “The older children [who bedwet] that I treat tend to have a long history of constipation that went either unrecognized or was inadequately treated,” he wrote in a blog post for Bedwetting and Accidents, a website he co-founded.
X-rays of his patients showed that kids with severe bedwetting also had issues with constipation. “We found they had large amounts of constipation even though the parents didn't think they had any problems at all pooping,” he said in a video for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where he practices.
“I find it frustrating that so many children are left untreated year after year, especially because there are signs, early on, that indicate these kids are unlikely to get better without treatment,” he added. These signs include accidents during the daytime in potty-trained children, severe bedwetting issues, and long-standing trouble with potty-training. Talk to your doctor about constipation treatments if this is the case with your child, he advised.
There are other red flags that could point to a problem too. Dr. Bolante-Kapalungan said parents should be alerted “if their child has already become successfully toilet-trained for a period of time and then reverts to bedwetting at age 6 for boys, and at age 5 for girls.” Other signs of an underlying problem include an unusual urine odor or color, pain when urinating, rashes around the genital area, and bedwetting past 7 years old, according to Mayo Clinic.
Upon your child's checkup, the doctor might ask for a urine test to be done as well as an x-ray to examine your child's kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract. Treatments may be prescribed depending on the pedia’s diagnosis. Through all this, Dr. Bolante-Kapalungan stressed that parents should not embarass a child or act out against their bedwetting. “Never be angry with or punish your child because he or she is not doing it deliberately.”