Generally, there are two main types of bedwetting treatment 1, 5
- Bedwetting alarms
- Bedwetting medication
Alarm therapy is a conditioning treatment. The aim of the treatment is to teach the child to recognise and respond to a full bladder during sleep. Bedwetting alarms are used to teach the child to wake up whenever wetting begins and to go to the toilet to finish urinating.
There are two types of alarm:
- Pad and bell alarm which has a pad connected to an alarm or bell that rings when the pad gets wet with urine.
- Body worn alarm that can be clipped onto the child's underpants.
Bedwetting alarms can be purchased or hired from pharmacies, continence clinics or through the internet. Please consult your doctor for more information.
For children who continue to wet the bed despite the alarm system, then medication may be appropriate.
Medication is given just before bedtime and is designed to reduce the amount of urine produced at night in the same way as the body's natural hormones. Such medications are available by prescription only as a wafer (placed under the tongue) or tablets. Speak to your doctor if you'd like to know more.
Bedwetting alarms and medication are treatments that have been extensively studied over many years and which are known to be effective and well tolerated.
You may hear about other treatments that are less commonly used such as hypnosis, acupuncture, psychotherapy, reward systems and fluid restriction. They are not discussed here as it has not been established whether they are effective in managing bedwetting.
Nappies, pull-ups or disposable pants are not a bedwetting treatment. They do not address the causes of bedwetting. Their main function is to absorb night-time urine in an effort to keep the bed dry, thus reducing the amount of washing needing to be done. Nappies can be a source of acute embarrassment in particular for older children who wet the bed.
References: 1. Caldwell P and Ng C. Med Today 2008:9:16-24. 5. Neveus T. J Urol 2001;166:2459-2462.
1. Myint M et al. J Pediatr Urol 2016;12:112e1-112e6