Information for the public
Bedwetting in children and young people
Bedwetting (sometimes called nocturnal enuresis) is a common condition that affects many children and young people. Although most children grow out of it, this may take many years and some may need help to become dry at night. It can be very distressing and have a considerable impact on the child or young person. It can also be very stressful for their family.
The causes of bedwetting are not fully understood and a number of factors may be involved, such as difficulties with holding on or waking up when the bladder is full during the night, or needing to pass a larger than normal volume of urine at night. It often runs in families.
Less often, there may be a bladder problem. This can mean the child or young person needs to empty their bladder frequently (even when it contains only a small amount of urine) or urgently before it is full. Children and young people with bladder problems may also have problems with wetting themselves during the day. This can be important when deciding on the best treatment. However, the assessment and treatment of children and young people with daytime wetting is not covered here.
For most children and young people, bedwetting can be successfully treated, boosting self-esteem. Even if treatment is not successful at first, it is important to persist. Advice and encouragement should continue and different treatment options should be considered.
The information here applies to all children and young people under 19 years, including younger children (under 7 years), unless otherwise stated. The care offered should be suitable for the child or young person's needs and circumstances, regardless of age.
Children and young people with bedwetting may be assessed and treated by a variety of different healthcare professionals, which may include nurses and doctors at a paediatric continence clinic, GPs, school nurses and health visitors.