Topics that were once taboo are now seen on prime time television, at least in the commercials. Erectile dysfunction, overactive bladder and constipation are discussed openly. But bedwetting remains cloaked in shame.
A few weeks ago a mother wrote us about her six-year-old daughter’s problem. Because she still wets the bed, the girl is extremely embarrassed. She can’t sleep over at a friend’s house and doesn’t like to explain why.
Many readers responded compassionately to this family’s situation. They dealt with the condition themselves as youngsters or have watched their own children struggle. Here is some of their advice:
“My heart went out to the little girl and her mother who wrote about bedwetting. We have a daughter who suffered from night-time enuresis until age 12-and I do mean suffered!
“A child with enuresis need not miss out on sleep-overs and camp, though. Over the years, we developed techniques to help our daughter. On a campout, we’d place a clean “GoodNite” (disposable pull-up pants) and plastic bag in the foot of her sleeping bag, then roll it up as usual. She could put on the GoodNite inside the sleeping bag at bedtime. In the morning, she could slip it back off and bundle it into the waiting plastic bag. No one was the wiser.
“For sleep-overs, she carried the GoodNite with a plastic bag in her toiletries kit. She could lock the bathroom door to put it on and no one ever questioned her need for privacy.”
One of our recommendations was to try a wetness alarm such as DRI Sleeper, Nature Calls or Wet-No-More. These emit a sound at the first hint of urine. One reader responded: “If our experiences are near the norm, you grossly undersold the wetness alarms for enuresis. In our family it cured the problem permanently in less than two weeks.”
We were also reminded that DDAVP, a nose spray for enuresis, is an effective drug for this condition: “My child is 13 and still has this problem. She’s been checked by the doctors and nothing is physically wrong. However, she is a very deep sleeper and they all agree that she can’t wake up.
“One thing that has worked for her with no side effects is a prescription drug called DDAVP. Before DDAVP my daughter had to wear pull-ups for overnight visits and at camp. Sometimes kids laughed at her. Ever since she has been on this medicine, she has not had one accident.
“The doctors explained that this is a problem she can’t control without medicine. Her friends now know this and never question her taking medicine when she sleeps over. They are true friends.”
One reader suggested a novel method: “My daughter was also a bedwetter. I cut out caffeine, woke her up to urinate and asked her pediatrician about a wetness alarm. He suggested that we try a simple tactic first. He said to put her to bed, prop her legs up on a pillow, give her a book to read and the fluid from her legs would drain down and trigger her to go to the bathroom. She never wet the bed again.”
As these testimonials demonstrate, there are many approaches to solving this problem. It is important not to blame the child, but to keep experimenting until you find a method that works.