Bedwetting – when to consult a doctor

BEDWETTING is an issue that millions of families face every night. This can be very stressful for the whole family, and often the children feel embarrassed or guilty about wetting the bed. Bedwetting can also cause anxiety when spending the night at a friend’s house or going away to a school camp. In most cases, children will grow out of bedwetting, but there are certain cases that will need medical attention.

There can be numerous reasons for bedwetting. This is a problem experienced by an estimated 10% of South African children aged between 4-15 years old. In most cases, it’s linked to delays in physiological development. Children are unique, and each child develops at a different pace. It could also stem from being in a very deep sleep or a bowel issue like constipation. Bedwetting could also be caused by psychological problems that have resulted from issues at school or a change in family dynamics.
Dr Michael Mol, sheds some light on when parents should consult a healthcare professional when it comes to bedwetting and which specialist would suit the situation:

The signs that parents need to look out for when their child is bedwetting include:

• Signs of bladder or kidney infection. These signs will be evident when your child cries or complains when urinating, when there is pink urine or bloodstains or when your child visits the toilet more frequently than usual
• If your child is over the age of 5 and cannot control their bladder
• When your child who in the past was able to control their bladder has begun to wet the bed and this is happening more frequently

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There are several healthcare professionals who can help deal with bedwetting. These specialists can also provide you with the relevant advice you need to assist both you and your child.

A General Practitioner
If your child is five years old or over but is still wetting the bed at night, you should consult your GP on the subject, especially if the bedwetting persists beyond seven years of age. It is also advised to consult your GP in the case of secondary enuresis (when a child starts to wet the bed again after a period of at least six consecutive months of nighttime dryness).

A Pediatrician
Your GP can recommend you to a pediatrician if the initial treatments are unsuccessful.

A Pediatrician Urologist
This specialist may be consulted only by referral from your GP or Pediatrician. Referrals will be made in the case of daytime bladder leakage which may be caused by a recurrent urinary tract infection.

A Psychologist
If your child is suffering because of regular bedwetting in terms of a loss of confidence, feelings of guilt or embarrassment, a tendency to isolate themselves, etc. you are advised to see a psychologist. Visible symptoms in children include depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, behavioral issues and lack of concentration. A psychologist may also be referred by your GP in cases of secondary enuresis. An appointment with a psychologist can be arranged by your GP or pediatrician.

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