- the size of the bladder
- a urinary tract infection
- a lack of hormones to concentrate urine
- something that runs in families
- stress or anxiety
Some children are referred to Enuresis Clinics by their GPs and, as a first step in the process, it is sensible to rule out the possibility of any infection which can easily be treated with antibiotics, or to identify the possibility of some other physiological cause for the problem.
Once it’s been established that these do not play a part, the clinic will often suggest solutions such as using alarms in the bed, which will wake the child once wetness is detected. If alarms are not successful, children may be prescribed medication or drugs to concentrate their urine and even in extreme cases, will be offered anti- depressants.
Our bodies release a hormone whilst we sleep called vasopressin and this concentrates our urine. When children struggle to control their bladders at night, it’s often assumed that an absence of the hormone is the cause of this. Doctors however, do tell me that there is no definitive test to check whether this is the case in each particular child and so the use of a drug called Desmopressin – a synthetic hormone that mimics the action of the real hormone – is really a ‘best guess’.
It should solve the problem pretty much immediately, if it’s going to work at all, but I have come across children who have been taking it for many months and some even for years, without achieving dry nights – it’s still a hit and miss affair. After this time, it’s very likely that it’s not going to work at all and if your child is in this situation, I would recommend a return visit to the practitioner who prescribed it for you, with a view to stopping it altogether.
I believe the solution to this problem has to come ‘from within’ rather than from some sort of external crutch. Just like a smoker who quits cigarettes with the aid of nicotine replacement gum, or an overweight person who loses weight by drinking diet shakes, instead of eating proper food, the problem may appear to have been solved, but quickly returns once the crutch is taken away.
Neuro-psychologists now agree that there’s a complex co-ordination that needs to take place between the nerves and the muscles of the bladder and more often than not, a delay in this happening is what holds children back.
New neural pathways or connections are needed to be made in the brain, in order to achieve night-time dryness and my Stop Bedwetting in 7 days programme is designed to do just that.
Only changes made on the ‘inside’ can be guaranteed to produce long-lasting results on the ‘outside’.
In a minority of cases, there can be a sudden onset of bedwetting. If your child has been dry at night for several months or even years and starts having wet beds again, this can be caused by an emotional upset such as a change at home or stress with school work. This is usually temporary and not the same as an ongoing bedwetting problem. Most parents know their children and will be able to tell the difference, so if your gut feeling is that there is no real explanation for the bedwetting – go with your instincts but monitor the situation closely.
Alicia Eaton is a Children’s Behavioural and Emotional Wellbeing Specialist based in London’s Harley Street. She is the author of the best-selling “Stop Bedwetting in 7 days” book and video programme. You can read more about her strategies for success in her latest book: “Fix Your Life…with NLP”. For more details see www.aliciaeaton.co.uk or www.stopbedwettingin7days.co.uk