Enuresis (Bedwetting) in Children
by Kelley T. Woods CHt
At some time in our lives, we all experience bed wetting. Most people eventually outgrow it, learning to control our bladder muscles, even in sleep, but a surprising number suffer this inconvenient and embarrassing malady late into childhood or even as adults. Approximately 20 million Americans over the age of 5 have experienced bed-wetting.
A diagnosis of enuresis is made when a patient is over the age of 5 or 6 and has at least 2 instances of bed-wetting per month. This involuntary urination that occur during sleep, either at daytime or at night. Primary enuresis is present when a patient has never been consistently dry while sleeping. Secondary enuresis exists when bedwetting occurs after a period of at least six months of dry beds.
There are many possible contributing factors to bed-wetting. A common one is that the body produces more urine than the bladder is able to hold and the brain just doesn't receive this message while in the sleep state. Some children develop muscle control at different rates and some are a bit more delayed than others.
Consumption of sugar-laden or caffeinated beverages is linked to bedwetting. Chronic constipation can influence bladder control. Certain medications may be a cause. In addition, there is evidence to show that when dairy products are removed from the diet, enuresis almost always ceases; a possibility for this is that the dairy is creating irritation in the bladder. In addition, rare physical issues may be present, such as spinal cord malformation, diabetes or urinary tract infection. It is important to that a physical examination, including urinalysis, be conducted by a medical professional to rule out any such possibilities.
Other influences of enuresis may be stress related, resulting in emotional tension and disturbed sleep patterns. Feelings of shame and frustration can accompany and exacerbate bedwetting, especially if parents are uninformed regarding how they treat the problem.
Treatments for Enuresis
- Restricting nighttime liquids is one of the first ways to help with bedwetting, but be sure that plenty of fluids are consumed during the day. Make sure to use the toilet before going to bed.
- Parents can set up a reward system for dry beds, keeping a journal of successful nights is a great tool for children.
- Bedwetting alarms are available without a prescription and will awaken the child at the onset of urination. They may take several months to "train" the brain to wake up in time, so they require consistent usage.
There are prescription drugs on the market to address enuresis, including DDAVP (desmopressin), which decreases urine production and is advised for short term application, such as sleepovers or camp visits or long term use in some cases. Tricyclic antidepressants (most often imipramine*) can also help with bedwetting. However, side effects can be present, and an overdose can be life-threatening. Therefore, these drugs are usually used when other treatments have failed.
Hypnosis for Enuresis
Hypnotherapy is an effective and affordable method to help children get over bedwetting. A qualified hypnotherapist with experience in this area can quickly and safely help a child gain control over the urinary process. Parents are usually present in the room, especially with younger children, although adolescents and teens may prefer to meet privately with the hypnotist. Most children live in a natural trance state and showing them how to utilize their active imagination results in a comfortably spontaneous hypnotic experience.
A typical approach might be as follows:
- Anatomy explained and the idea that the brain controls the body presented.
- Feelings about the problem are ellicited, including wonderings about what causes it.
- The child is informed about hypnosis; how it feels like being in a dream, a daze, etc.
- Trance state is induced by using imagery of a favorite place.
- Calibration of the child's desire to be rid of this problem is taken and any possible subconscious resistance is addressed. (This is rare, as most children look forward to dry beds.)
- A model for communication between the bladder and the brain is created, using the child's imagery of choice. A "sentry" of sorts can be devised, that will lock the bladder at night and alert the brain if needed, to awaken when the bladder is full, urinate in the toilet, and go back to sleep in bed.
- Physical layout of the sleeping quarters are also discussed, including accessibility to the bathroom, lighting, obstacles, etc.
- Future progression is used to allow the child to mentally experience success with the sentry model, either by awakening to the set up command or sleeping through the night, waking to a dry bed.
- Feelings of pride and confidence are anchored. The child is taught self-hypnosis at an age-appropriate level for daily practice and reinforcement.
- In some cases, a custom recording is provided for the child to listen to daily, reinforcing the positive thoughts and behavior.
Hypnosis for enuresis is a quick and safe approach that children enjoy. Beyond finding solutions for bedwetting, many children benefit longterm through learning how to control their own mind and body.
*In a published study comparing the efficacy of hypnosis and imipramine for eliminating enuresis, 68% of patients experienced success through hypnosis while only 24% had a positive response with imipramine.
Kelley T. Woods is a certified clinical hypnotherapist with a practice in Mount Vernon, Washington. She has been helping clients of all ages through hypnosis and NLP since 2002. In addition to alleviating enuresis, hypnosis is useful in addressing a plethora of issues, including stress and anxiety problems, pain control, weight management, smoking and other habit control, resolving past conflicts and removing blocks. Her office is located at 404 S. First Street, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 Phone: (360) 333-8577. http://www.woodshypnosis.com/