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Division of Urology

Pediatric Urology Conditions

Bedwetting (Nocturnal Enuresis)

What is nocturnal enuresis?

Nocturnal enuresis is wetting while asleep in children 5 years of age and older. A child with nocturnal enuresis wets only during sleep and urinates normally when awake.

How many children have nocturnal enuresis?

What causes nocturnal enuresis?

There are several factors that can lead to bedwetting including:

Our approach to treating nocturnal enuresis

Each year, we treat more than 700 children for nocturnal enuresis. With the experience and expertise of our DOVE team, we can decide what approach may help your child and work best for your family.

Your child’s visit with us will include a thorough history. We want to understand your child’s daytime voiding habits as these may contribute to the night wetting. Many children who do not void regularly during the day will wet at night. Working to change daytime voiding habits may reduce the night wetting.

Recommendations to optimize daytime voiding include:

If the night wetting persists after fine tuning the daytime habits, there are two main options to help manage your child’s wetting:

The bedwetting alarm

The bedwetting alarm is a form of conditioning therapy to help your child begin to recognize the need to wake up to go to the bathroom. Bedwetting alarms consist of a sensor to detect wetness and an alarm to awaken the child. The alarm rings when your child wets his bed. It works for 60 to 70 percent of children and requires a high level of commitment from the child and family.

It may take three to four months to accomplish mostly dry nights. There should be signs of progress in the first few weeks with a smaller amount of urine voided at night and with your child beginning to awaken on his own. Eventually the alarm triggers your child to wake up when his bladder is full.


Desmopressin (DDAVP®), concentrates urine so that your child makes less urine at night and does not completely fill the bladder. DDAVP® is effective in about 50 percent of patients.

We understand how stressful night wetting can be for you and your child. We will work with you to find the best treatment plan for your family. We will continue to follow your child in our DOVE program to maximize dry nights.

Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: January 2014

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Managing Bedwetting

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