Medications and alarm use

ND wonders if her 11 year old daughter can continue using her medication (desmopressin) when she starts using a bedwetting alarm. She currently takes 3 tablets every night and it keeps her dry about half the time. The other half of the time she floods the bed. In spite of taking the medication every night, she is not dependably dry so still is unsure about going to camp this summer.

You’re on the right tract by addressing this now. Using a bedwetting alarm for the next few months will enable your daughter to begin getting up when her bladder is full. This new behavior is one that will enable her to stay dry no matter where she is. Some families wait too long before beginning an alarm and expect that 2 weeks will be long enough for their child to become dry before camp. Since the average child takes 10-12 weeks to get to dryness, starting early enough is important.

Desmopressin (DDAVP) works by decreasing the amount of urine produced that night. If a smaller amount of urine is produced, the need to empty the bladder is less frequent. On the nights that your daughter can “hold” the amount of urine produced, she has a dry night. On the nights where she needs to get up to empty, she wets. In order for the alarm to do its job, it has to sound in response to wetness. Therefore, I recommend decreasing or discontinuing the desmopressin when beginning the alarm. This allows for more practice times. There is no harm in combining medication and the alarm, but she may make quicker progress initially if she hears the alarm every night and begins to learn the correct response. Some families use a little medication if the wetting happens more than once a night or if there is a night where using the alarm is impractical. As progress takes place, the medication is no longer needed.

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