Childhood nocturnal enuresis or bedwetting is a common problem all over the world. By definition, enuresis does not begin before the age of 5 years. It affects 15 – 20% of 5 year olds worldwide, and continues into teenage years in 1-1.5% of the population according to studies carried out by Ferguson, Horwood and Sharmon. By this adolescent stage it has become a huge emotional problem. Anxiety, embarrassment, frustration and loss of self esteem all set in and can mark the normal social and emotional development of the adolescent.
There are still many parents who do not consult a doctor or seek help for their child, as they believe the bedwetting to be caused by laziness on the part of the child, or drinking too much close to bedtime, or just plain heavy sleeping patterns.
Enuresis has no clear etiology, or cause. It is hypothesized to be related to genetics, sleep arousal dysfunction, maturational delay, stress, poor toilet training, altered smooth-muscle physiology, and occasionally organic causes. Maturational delay is supported by the fact that 5% of children become dry at night per year after age 5 without intervention. One theory suggests that development of the central nervous system recognition of and response to full bladder is delayed in some bedwetters.
Whatever the cause, the problem exists, and there are a number of treatments or treatment programs that may be effective for children, adolescents, and even adults suffering from enuresis.
Bed wetting alarms are the treatments that currently appear to work best in the long term. Complex intervention programs such as dry bed training can also show positive results. Some consultants may even advocate drugs which may also provide positive results. However, the adverse effects of alarm therapy, such as tiredness and upheaval of the family, are relatively insignificant when compared with the adverse effects of drugs.