Bedwetting treatments and drugs
Even though most children eventually outgrow bedwetting on their own (often, in cases where there is a family history of bedwetting, around the same age a parent who wet the bed as a child grew out of it), there are a few things parents, under the guidance of their child’s physician, can do. In many cases, especially with younger children, simply waiting out the issue will suffice. But sometimes, if an older, school-age child is particularly distressed about the issue and is extremely motivated to move on, other treatment options may be explored.
Here are a few different approaches to treatment:
A moisture or bedwetting alarm is a small, battery-operated gizmo that sounds an alarm when it senses moisture on your child’s pajamas and sheets. The idea is that the alarm will awaken your child just as he or she begins to pee, allowing your child to get to the bathroom to fully empty his or her bladder. (When the child returns to bed to go back to sleep, he or she should reset the alarm.) Sometimes, however, children are such deep sleepers that they don’t hear the alarm.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bedwetting alarms are successful about 50 percent to 75 percent of the time. They are particularly useful for children who don’t wet the bed every night but rather have some dry nights and have independently shown signs of bladder control. And even when they are successful, bedwetting alarms generally don’t garner instant results. It can take at least two weeks and as many as 12 weeks for a child to remain consistently dry with the help of a moisture alarm. Most moisture alarms have a low risk of relapse or side effects, however, and according to the Mayo Clinic, have a better rate of long-term success than medication has, in most cases. Your child’s pediatrician should be able to recommend the moisture alarm he or she feels is best for your child.
There are various medicines available that help treat – though rarely cure – bedwetting. They can be useful for social situations, like if your child has been invited to a sleepover and is afraid of wetting the bed. But the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that these medicines “are usually a last resort and are not recommended for children younger than 5 years.” Some of these medicines also have side effects, and parents should always consult with their child’s pediatrician about using medication to treat bedwetting.
Different medications work differently. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of them slow the production of urine during the night by boosting the levels of a natural anti-diuretic hormone, also known as ADH. Others work by calming the bladder, reducing bladder contractions and increasing capacity in children with small bladders. Still others work by changing a child’s sleep and waking pattern. In some cases, a combination of medications may be used. However, again, all of these medications have some level of side effects – some of them more serious than others – and should be used cautiously and under a doctor’s supervision. What’s more, because these medications do not cure the problem, bedwetting may resume when medication is stopped.
Holistic or alternative medical therapies
The AAP cautions parents against treatment programs and devices portrayed as “cures,” warning that they are often not only ineffective, but may be very expensive as well. It urges parents to speak with their pediatricians before starting any bedwetting-treatment program.
The Mayo Clinic, however, notes that while there is no evidence to support the efficacy of diet or chiropractic treatments, at least two alternative therapies, hypnosis and acupuncture, appear to be effective in some cases. Homeopathic and herbal remedies, though, are not only disproven but may be harmful in some cases.
Bottom line: Consult your pediatrician before embarking on a treatment.