Nocturnal enuresis or nighttime urinary incontinence, commonly called bedwetting or sleepwetting, is involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which bladder control usually occurs. Nocturnal enuresis is considered primary (PNE) when a child has not yet had a prolonged period of being dry. Secondary nocturnal enuresis (SNE) is when a child or adult begins wetting again after having stayed dry.
Most bedwetting is a developmental delay—not an emotional problem or physical illness. Only a small percentage (5% to 10%) of bedwetting cases are caused by specific medical situations. Bedwetting is frequently associated with a family history of the condition.
Treatments range from behavioral-based options such as bedwetting alarms, to medication such as hormone replacement, and even surgery such as urethral enlargement. Since most bedwetting is simply a developmental delay, most treatment plans aim to protect or improve self-esteem. Bedwetting children and adults can suffer emotional stress or psychological injury if they feel shamed by the condition. Treatment guidelines recommend that the physician counsel the parents, warning about psychological damage caused by pressure, shaming, or punishment for a condition children cannot control.
Bedwetting is the most common childhood complaint. Most girls stay dry by age six and most boys stay dry by age seven. By ten years old, 95% of children are dry at night. Studies place adult bedwetting rates at between 0.5% to 2.3%.
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