Bedwetting refers to uncontrollable urination while being asleep. It is commonly seen in some children as it is viewed as part of growing up. However, it can be worrisome and stressful for the parents if the problem persists beyond early childhood.

Most three to four year old children are able to achieve daytime control, and most by age four to five will achieve night-time control. However bedwetting occurs when there is regular (≥ 2 times a week) involuntary passage of urine while asleep in children who are 5 years and above of age.

Bed wetting may be classified into two categories, primary bedwetting and secondary bedwetting. It is important to differentiate between the two categories as secondary bedwetting in particular may be attributable to an underlying medical or psychological condition.

1. Primary bedwetting: This applies to children who have never been consistently dry at nights for a period of ≥6 months.

2. Secondary bedwetting: This applies to children who have previously stayed dry at nights for ≥ 6 months.

Causes of Bedwetting

Bedwetting is believed to be caused by the interplay between the following three factors:

  • Increased urine production during sleep
  • Reduced bladder capacity
  • Lack of arousal from sleep

Bedwetting is also often due to:

  • Hereditary cause: Approximately 70% of children who experience bedwetting have a sibling or parent who had faced the same condition
  • Psychosocial factors: Teasing and bullying may result in primary bedwetting. Secondary noctural bedwetting can often be due to psychosocial stressors such as parental separation, problems in school, or welcoming a new baby in the family
  • Underlying medical conditions, such as urinary tract infection, constipation, diabetes mellitus, and spinal cord disorders

Types of foods that might trigger bedwetting

Limiting the amount of fluids before sleep, and avoiding caffeine containing food and drinks such as tea, coffee, energy drinks, chocolates are often recommended. There is no need to ban these foods completely, but they can be enjoyed earlier in the day to wear off some of the effects before bedtime.

Some parents are concerned about spicy or citrus foods as they believe that such foods may irritate the bladder. However, there is no scientific evidence that shows the relationship between spicy or citrus foods and bedwetting currently.

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