Overview of Bedwetting (Nocturnal Enuresis)

Nocturnal enuresis is a condition in which a person who has bladder control while awake urinates while asleep. The condition is commonly called bedwetting and it often has a psychological impact on children and their families. Children with the condition often have low self-esteem and their interpersonal relationships, quality of life, and school performance are affected.

Children achieve bladder control (continence) at different ages and usually achieve daytime continence before nighttime dryness. Most children are continent by the age of 4 or 5. Nocturnal enuresis is common and usually does not require treatment in children of preschool age who have achieved continence during the day.

Nocturnal enuresis is classified as primary (PNE) or secondary(SNE). In primary nocturnal enuresis, the child has never been consistently dry at night. If the child has experienced at least 6 months of dryness at night and then begins bedwetting, the condition is referred to as secondary nocturnal enuresis. Psychological issues and acquired medical conditions cause the development of SNE.

Incidence & Prevalence of Bedwetting

Nocturnal enuresis is more common in males and prevalence of the condition gradually declines during childhood. Approximately 23% of 5-year olds, 20% of 7-year olds, 4% of 10-year olds, and 1–2% of those aged 18 and older experience bedwetting. Secondary nocturnal enuresis accounts for approximately 25% of cases.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 10 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 05 Nov 2012