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Daytime Accidental Wetting (Diurnal Enuresis)

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Daytime accidental wetting is much less common than bed-wetting. But about 1 out of 4 children who wet the bed at night also wet during the day.1

Knowing the cause of the wetting will help you and your child's doctor decide on the best treatment. Daytime accidental wetting is more likely than bed-wetting to develop after a child has had bladder control for at least 6 months to 1 year (secondary diurnal enuresis). This pattern of wetting is often related to a medical condition, such as an infection or a defect in the urinary tract camera.gif, or emotional stress. Treating the condition will usually stop the wetting. But daytime wetting can be a matter of normal development, with no medical cause.

If daytime wetting begins after a child has had consistent bladder control, consider the possibility that stress, such as the birth of a new sibling, is the cause. Accidental wetting often stops after the stress is addressed and managed. Some children may benefit from seeing a mental health professional.

Daytime wetting as a part of normal physical development

Daytime accidental wetting (diurnal enuresis) is common in younger children. Children may become so involved in play that they forget to go to the bathroom. Also, they may hold on to urine too long. These children:

  • Tend to empty their bladders only 2 or 3 times a day compared with the normal 5 to 7 times a day.
  • Often do not empty their bladders when they first wake up.
  • Often do not empty their bladders completely when they use the bathroom.

Some children have accidental daytime wetting because they try to hold their urine too long. To keep from wetting themselves, children may:

  • Squat.
  • Squirm, cross their legs, hold their thighs together, or use their hands to hold back the urine.
  • Stand very still, looking as if they will wet themselves if they move.

If a child has accidental wetting during the day, it can affect his or her performance in school or friendships. The child may be afraid of wetting at school or on outings. He or she may also be afraid of being teased by friends. Treatment can help the child lead a more normal life and have higher self-esteem.

When to call a doctor

Daytime accidental wetting may be a normal part of a child's growth and development, or it may be caused by a medical condition. Getting your child's problem evaluated by a doctor is important if there is any chance that a medical condition is the cause.

Call the doctor if:

  • Your child has signs of a bladder or kidney infection, such as:
    • Cloudy or pink urine or bloodstains on underclothes.
    • Urinating more often than usual.
    • Crying or complaining when urinating.
    • Urge to urinate frequently but usually passing only small quantities of urine.
  • Your child is leaking (dribbling) when urinating or has a weak urine stream. The child may have a birth defect in the urinary system.
  • Your child age 4 or older is having daytime accidental wetting and is leaking stool. The child may have stool blocking the intestines, caused by having constipation over a period of time.
  • Your child had bladder control but is wetting again.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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