Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control, which results in the accidental loss of urine. A child with UI may not stay dry during the day or night. Some UI is caused by a health problem such as:
Most of the time, the exact cause of urinary incontinence is not known, but it is often the result of more than one factor.
Although urinary incontinence affects many children, it usually disappears naturally over time. UI after age 3 - the age when most children achieve daytime dryness - may cause great distress and embarrassment. Many children experience occasional urinary incontinence, and treatment is available for most children who have a hard time controlling their bladder. Thus, caregivers of children who wet the bed or have accidents during the day should approach this problem with understanding and patience.
Urinary incontinence is also called enuresis. Types of enuresis include the following:
- Primary enuresis is wetting in a child who has never been consistently dry.
- Secondary enuresis is wetting that begins after at least 6 months of dryness.
- Nocturnal enuresis is wetting that usually occurs during sleep, also called night-time urinary incontinence.
- Diurnal enuresis is wetting when awake, also called daytime urinary incontinence.
Diurnal enuresis is a type of incontinence that affects young children during their waking hours. The condition cannot be diagnosed unless the child is over five years old and is younger than sixteen. Diurnal enuresis is a very distressing condition for both the child and the parents.
There can be several reasons why a child develops diurnal enuresis. The first thing that needs to be medically established is whether the child has contracted a urinary infection. This involves the child providing a urine sample for testing
. The doctor will also discuss family history, including toilet-training bowel habits and the regularity and nature of urinary stream.
As well as a urine infection, diurnal enuresis can also be caused by a brain hormone, known as anti-diuretic hormone
, not working properly. The presence of this hormone determines how much water can be held in the body. If the child has too little of this hormone being released into their body, their bladder may not be able to cope with the level of urine being stored.
Other things to consider if your child has developed diurnal enuresis is whether they have an overactive bladder - this is more common in girls and it can be a sign of infection
. Quite often young children can become so caught up in an activity that they don't want to stop to go to the toilet. They then leave it too late and this can result in their bladder overflowing before they make it to the toilet.
Discovering with your doctor what it is causing your child's diurnal enuresis and working out how to help you and your child cope in this situation is crucial. It may be that a medical treatment
isn't necessary and many children do grow out of the condition. But whatever the treatment your child needs you. There is an estimated 75% chance of a child with diurnal enuresis having a parent or sibling who has previously had the same condition. If it also happened to you, share the information with your child so that they know they are not the only one.
There are many things you can do to help your child with diurnal enuresis. The most important thing is reassurance. Tell your child, and remind them often, that it isn't their fault. Never allow their siblings to tease them. Recognize the warning signs: the child may start fidgeting or holding themselves in the perennial area. Encourage the child to go to the toilet and never punish them if they have an 'accident'.
It is important to know that whatever is causing your child to have diurnal enuresis, it is not the child's fault. The child isn't being lazy or naughty - it is a condition that they have no control over. While emotional stress does not cause diurnal enuresis, a result of having diurnal enuresis can lead to the child having emotional stress
and losing self-esteem. Avoid this happening to your child.