Bedwetting isn't always due to bladder problems, say researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who believe that constipation is often the culprit. They add that if it isn't diagnosed, children and their parents must endure an unnecessarily long, costly and difficult quest to cure bedwetting.
The findings, appearing in the journal Urology, describe how 30 children and adolescents (from 5 to 15 years old) who sought treatment for bedwetting all had large amounts of stool in their rectums, despite the majority having normal bowel habits. After treatment with laxative therapy, 25 of the children (83 percent) were cured of bedwetting within three months.
"Having too much stool in the rectum reduces bladder capacity," said the study's author Steve J. Hodges. "Our study showed that a large percentage of these children were cured of nighttime wetting after laxative therapy. Parents try all sorts of things to treat bedwetting - from alarms to restricting liquids. The reason they don't work is that constipation is the problem."
Hodges said that constipation is often overlooked because its definition is confusing and children and their parents often aren't aware the child is constipated. In the patients examined for the study, X-rays revealed that all the children had excess stool in their rectums that could interfere with normal bladder function. However, only three of the children described bowel habits consistent with constipation.
"The kind of constipation associated with bedwetting occurs when children put off going to the bathroom. This causes stool to back up and their bowels to never be fully emptied. We believe that treating this condition can cure bedwetting," he explained.
He added that the importance of diagnosing the condition cannot be overstated. "When it is missed, children may be subjected to unnecessary surgery and the side effects of medications. We challenge physicians considering medications or surgery as a treatment for bedwetting to obtain an X-ray or ultrasound first."
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Bed Wetting Affects A Significant Number Of Adolescents
Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center