Bedwetting or Something Else – A UTI?
Posted 4/20/2018 by UHBlog
Worried about your child’s accidental bedwetting? We can help.
You thought you had passed the potty-training phase with your child – and now, all of a sudden, they’re wetting their bed again at night. Before you throw up your hands in frustration and commit yourself to boatloads of laundry yet again, consider that your child’s bedwetting may actually be the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI), says pediatric urologist Lynn Woo, MD.
“Urinary tract infections cause your bladder to get inflamed,” Dr. Woo says. “The infection can make it difficult for your child to control urination.”
This is especially true while your child is sleeping and may not be awake enough to recognize the feeling of a full bladder, Dr. Woo says.
Urinary tract infections – which happen when bacteria (germs) gets into the urinary tract – are extremely common in children. Infections of the urinary tract affect 2.4 percent to 2.8 percent of children every year and account for more than 1.1 million office visits annually, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Though anyone can get one, after the first year of life girls are more prone to urinary tract infections than boys, Dr. Woo says.
As anyone who has ever experienced one knows, UTIs can be very painful. Indeed, urinary tract infections in adults and children are very similar, Dr. Woo says. However, infections in infants and young children may become severe more quickly. And young children may also be more prone to damaging their kidneys if they have repeated kidney infections early in life, according to Dr. Woo.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of symptoms, especially in young children who may not be able to verbally express what they’re feeling. Bedwetting is one of the more common signs of a urinary tract infection in children.
“If your child has new onset day or night leakage, the first thing a pediatrician often does is rule out a urinary tract infection,” she says.
Other urinary tract infection symptoms in children include:
- Pain or burning with urination
- Urge to urinate frequently, but difficulty initiating a stream
- Loss of bladder control
- Pain in the genital area
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal or back pain
- High fever
Some people think sitting in a wet bathing suit too long leads to UTIs. While it's not advised for any child, it doesn't cause a UTI.
“It can cause irritation to the genital area, which can, in turn, lead to symptoms that may mimic a UTI,” says Dr. Woo.
Research has shown that other habits are more related to higher incidents of urinary tract infections in children. These include:
- Holding urine in for too long
- Not drinking enough water
- Not emptying the bladder completely after peeing
Practicing healthy hygiene and bathroom habits can be helpful in warding off urinary tract infections, but it doesn't guarantee total prevention.
“Biologically, some individuals are just more prone to infections than others,” Dr. Woo says.
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from a urinary tract infection, you should contact their pediatrician. Antibiotics are the main way infections are treated in children, Dr. Woo says.
And if it turns out that a urinary tract infection is not the cause of your child’s bedwetting, keep track of how often it happens, whether there are daytime accidents as well and how your child responds to the wetting. Based on these responses, your pediatrician may suggest further evaluation by a pediatric urology specialist.
Lynn Woo, MD is a pediatric urologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Woo or any other doctor online.