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Facts about teenager bed wetting and how to get help

Teen bedwetting

This is a taboo topic not widely spoken about but happens more often than what people think. In fact, it is quite common. The medical name for bed wetting is enuresis (pronounced as en-yuh-ree-sis). Teen enuresis or teen bed wetting among healthy teenagers is very common. It happens to about one to two in every one hundred teenagers at some stage.
What is nocturnal enuresis?

Enuresis is the medical term for not being able to control wetting yourself. It is sometimes called involuntary urination. Nocturnal enuresis is when involuntary urination happens at night while you are asleep. It happens at an age where the person should already have bladder control.
You can see how and why it is a difficult topic for teenagers to discuss. Unfortunately, the teenage years can be a lot about image. So, teen bed wetting would not only affect their confidence but self-esteem.

Nocturnal Enuresis: Causes

There is not one exact cause of Nocturnal Enuresis in a teenager. There are a few things that could contribute to this problem.

  • Hormonal Problems
There is a very important hormone called the antidiuretic hormone or ADH. This not widely spoken about hormone tells the body to make less urine at night time when you go to sleep. For some, their bodies do not produce enough ADH. As a result, the body makes too much urine at night time leading to bet wetting.
  • Bladder Problems

A small bladder is another cause for teen enuresis. A small bladder will not be able the hold the normal amount of urine. Because of this, you will find that bedwetting becomes an issue.

  • Hereditary

Much evidence has shown that teen bedwetting is in the genes. If one parent was a bed wetter, it then carries about a 40% chance that the kids will have bed wetting problems. If both parents were bed wetters this percentage increases to around 77%.

  • Sleep Problems

Some teenagers are deep sleepers so that they do not feel that their bladder is full, and as a result, they wet the bed.


Nocturnal enuresis: Symptoms

A large number of teenagers will not have any other symptoms other than the bed wetting, however, there can be other symptoms that come up.

  •  Some wetting during the day
  • Unusual urination symptoms like staining
  • Cloudy urine
  • Bed wetting occurs twice a week for about three months

Nocturnal enuresis: Treatment

Every teenager’s treatment will be different for enuresis. This is because the cause for every teenager will be different. There is not one solution but many that work together to tackle the root of the problem. This will hopefully stop the bed wetting.

  • Managing food and liquid before bed

This is usually the first plan of attack for most teens. The doctor will work through what foods might be causing the bed wetting but with most if not all cases the amount of liquids consumed will need to decrease. So, less liquids over time will get the bladder to stop overproducing at night time.

  • Urination Alarm

This alarm goes off as soon as bed wetting occurs. This is to wake up the teen so that they are aware they have wet the bed a little bit and to go to the bathroom. This is a long-term therapy which helps the body to relearn the proper signals of a full bladder. The hope is that it will stop the wetting and instead go to the bathroom before the alarm goes off.

  • Medication

Medication for teenage enuresis come in the form of a nasal spray and tablets. It attempts to increase the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) by providing a synthetic form. This might not be the treatment for everyone though as it has a success rate of about 40% to 60%.


There is no doubt that this is going to be a touchy issue to discuss with your teen and will need to be approached with sensitivity and a little TLC. They will be going through a lot mentally, emotionally and physically at this time so being kind will go a long way. Always seek professional help if you are in doubt at any stage. Additional resources and advice can be sourced through the Continence Foundation Australia, Bedwetting Institute for Australia and several other parenting forums - don't be afraid to reach out as you are not alone.

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