The Bedwetting Blues
Don't Get Mad, Get Help
Pills and Potions
When these behavioral approaches don't work, medication can be
considered. The two most commonly used to treat bed-wetting are imipramine and
Imipramine is an older antidepressant whose basic effect is to
keep kids from reaching deep sleep. It's usually used in combination with the
behavioral therapy methods above. In theory, children on this medicine will be
more likely to awaken when they need to go to the bathroom. However, it has
many troublesome side effects including nervousness, intestinal problems, and
excessive tiredness during the day. And as with many medications, an overdose
can be fatal.
The newer drug treatment, Desmopressin is a hormone that is
chemically similar to ADH and works by inhibiting urine production. Taken
before bedtime, it can help children make it through the night without wetting.
It is available in nose drops, nasal spray, and tablet forms. Headaches,
nausea, upset stomach, and nasal irritation (from the drop and spray forms) are
the most common side effects. In some cases, depression, agitation, dizziness,
and a reduction in the ability to produce tears can occur.
While using medications may sound easier than getting up every
few hours, parents should be aware that they only have a success rate of around
50% and don't train the child's body to hold its urine on its own, says Greene.
Therefore, many kids revert to bed-wetting after they stop taking the drugs.
Still, these medicines can be a good option when a child faces an overnight
trip away from home, at camp or a sleepover, for example.
The Taylors Stay Dry
The Taylor family never made a big issue when their kids wet
the bed. Michelle and her husband felt it was important not to belittle them,
to pressure them into stopping, or to compare them to peers who had already
stopped. Instead, they had the girls wear training pants to bed and focused on
praising them when they got through the night dry. "We really emphasized
the positive, and never pushed the negative."
Michelle Taylor's oldest daughter stopped wetting the bed on
her own shortly after her 6th birthday. The transition began with a few dry
nights in a row, then a week, then a month, and finally the bed-wetting stopped
When younger daughter Tania didn't stop by age 6 1/2, Michelle
started to look into sensor therapy. But before she could get the equipment,
Tania's bed-wetting also stopped spontaneously.
"We felt that the better we could make the girls feel about
the situation, the more likely it would clear up on its own," says
Michelle. "And it did."
Will Wade, a San Francisco-based writer, was the co-founder of
a monthly parenting magazine. His work has appeared in POV magazine,
The San Francisco Examiner, and Salon. He is the father of a