Bedwetting: When to get medical help
If a child who has generally had dry nights has a sudden problem with bedwetting – particularly if it comes on suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms – that could be a signal that another related medical condition is at play.
A sudden onset of bedwetting could be an indication of several other things. Among them:
- A urinary tract infection
- A bladder problem
- Severe stress
When to call the doctor
You should call your child’s doctor if, after 6 months of consistent nighttime dryness, your child has a sudden onset of bedwetting or if bedwetting is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Inability to hold urine long enough to get to the bathroom during the day
- Sudden onset of poor behavior and acting out
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pink urine
- Unusually frequent urination
- Extreme hunger or thirst
- Swollen ankles or feet
You’ll also want to speak to your doctor if your child is still wetting the bed after age 5 or 6. Though most children are fully toilet trained by age 4, bedwetting remains an issue for about 15 percent of all 5-year-olds. Less than 5 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 11 are still struggling with bedwetting. And while in most cases kids outgrow it on their own, you should contact your doctor if you are at all concerned.
The good news is that bedwetting, unless it is an indication of another medical problem, does not in itself pose a health risk – at least nothing beyond the occasional rash. To prevent prolonged exposure to urine from irritating your child’s bottom or genital area, have your child rinse off in the morning and apply a petroleum-based ointment before bed at night.
The biggest thing to watch out for is its effect on your child’s self-esteem. Do your best to support and reassure your child that bedwetting is normal, common and, in most cases, resolves on its own.