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Do other illnesses affect bedwetting?

October 03, 2014 2 min read

Parents report that their child who was previously dry at night has suddenly begun wetting again. They may also mention that they also have been sick with strep, tonsillitis, an upper respiratory virus or stomach virus. A few kids have recently broken a bone, had teeth extracted or had a chronic illness such as Lyme's disease.

I am not aware of any scientific studies that prove the relationship between secondary enuresis (new bedwetting) and other illnesses. However, in my experience treating hundreds of children with bedwetting, I have seen repeatedly that other stressors on the body can cause a child to begin bedwetting. Sometimes this happens in children who have never had an accident at night. Parents are understandably concerned.

Making sure there is not a new urinary tract infection or the onset of diabetes is easy.

A simple urine test can be performed in your pediatrician's office.

Some medications may make your child sleep more soundly.

These include:

  • Cough and cold preparations
  • Allergy medications
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics

It's common to "push fluids when someone is ill.

Drinking more than usual can impact nighttime wetting.

Sleeping more hours at a time when you are ill is common.

The bladder may not be able to hold all the urine produced during this lengthy rejuvenating sleep, so a bedwetting episode may occur.

In most cases, once the illness is resolved, the child returns to their previous dry at night status.

Be supportive and reassure your child that their body is paying attention to getting healthy and may not be paying as much attention to waking them up at night when they need to go to the bathroom.

Help them change sheets and get into dry clothing. If your child persists with bedwetting after they are healthy for a few weeks, you can restart their bedwetting alarm, if they had previously used one. Make sure they urinate before bed and make sure their stools are now regular.

If this secondary enuresis does not resolve on its own, most of the children do respond to bedwetting alarms to remind them to wake up in response to a full bladder. 

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