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Back-to-School (or anytime) Bedwetting

Waking up in a wet bed is not a good way to start the school day.

According to the National Kidney Foundation approximately 5 million children wet the bed every night. The majority of these children have never been dry and many are teenagers. If you are the parent of one of these kids, or a concerned adult you can imagine the serious impact unresolved bedwetting can have in regard to a child's self-esteem. This is perhaps the most important reason to be proactive in seeking a solution to this uncomfortable and often embarrassing situation.

It is important to note that a child does not need to be ashamed of a condition over which he or she has no control. Bedwetting referred to by the medical community as "pediatric nocturnal enuresis," is not a result of a "lazy child" or bad parenting.

Most likely your child's wetting has a genetic basis. Therefore your child is no more responsible for bedwetting then he is for choosing the color of his eyes. It is a fact that we inherit from our parents both good and sometimes not-so-good traits.

Just as some kids are tall and others short. Just as some kids have asthma and some don't. Some kids have difficulty controlling their bladder while asleep and some do just fine.

It is generally accepted that a good way to start the day is to begin with a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast. It is also generally assumed that the day has begun in a comfortable snuggly dry bed. Most of us just take that part for granted. Imagine what it is like for the millions of children who awake with wet pajamas, wet undergarments, wet sheets and soiled mattresses.

Many children have learned to cope. Some have never experienced anything else and simply choose to ignore it. Some plan ahead and employ the use of diapers, pull-ups, plastic pants and bed liners. Others have devised, often elaborate, methods to disguise the daily offense. These kids will hide or destroy their wet things or sneak off and do their own laundry.

Making matters worse, uninformed ridicule and derision from siblings, parents and classmates is very painful and may lead to long-term psychological effects.

The beginning of the new school year is a good time to begin new habits and generally get a fresh start. If you are the parent of a child who wets, why not use this time to create a new beginning for your child. Helping your child to overcome bedwetting will boost self-esteem give him greater confidence and a feeling of accomplishment.

There are several things you can do. Begin by reading the book "Getting to Dry" (Harvard Common Press). This book outlines the successful step-by-step method of treating pediatric enuresis developed and used by the TRY for DRY Team at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

For some children there is a pharmaceutical alternative called DDAVP distributed by Aventis Pharmaceuticals which may be effective. This medication often has immediate results but is generally only useful as long as the child continues its use.

Director of the TRY for DRY Program, Pediatric Urologist, Dr. Max Maizels suggests that in order to affect a permanent long-term "cure" for bedwetting, your child's "best bet" will be the use of an enuresis alarm. This small device is worn every night until he or she has achieved fourteen consecutive dry days and nights. Dr. Maizels says, to "have patience," the process can take from 3 weeks to 3 months until the child has obtained this goal.

A typical alarm based program will cost about $100, which compares to less than three months of disposable diapers. Annually about 3% of children will become dry on their own, but why wait and see. Be proactive and take action sooner than later. This small investment now can save you from years of future wet nights.

Dr. Maizels suggests that before school begins, discuss bedwetting with your child's pediatrician or primary healthcare practitioner. You can also visit www.tryfordry.com to learn more about the treatment options mentioned here as well as information about purchasing enuresis alarms and the "Getting to Dry" book.

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