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Drugs to Treat Bed-Wetting

If no underlying medical condition is causing your child's bed-wetting, there is no real medical need to treat him. Bed-wetting tends to go away by itself. However, if after talking to your child's doctor you decide to treat your child with medications, several drug therapies are available.

The two drugs approved by the FDA specifically for bed-wetting are DDAVP and Tofranil. Other medications that are sometimes used to treat bed-wetting include Ditropan and Levsin.

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Drug therapy does not work for everyone, and these medications can have significant side effects. Talk to your child's doctor to determine if drug therapy is right for your child.

A Guide to Bed-Wetting Drugs

Here's an overview of each drug used to treat bed-wetting:

DDAVP

DDAVP is a synthetic form of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a substance that occurs naturally in the body. This drug works by imitating ADH in the body, which reduces the amount of urine that the body produces and also increases the concentration of the urine. Its main use is for children who have not been helped by an alarm. It is also used as a stopgap measure to help children attend camps or sleepovers without embarrassment. It is an FDA-approved treatment for bed-wetting.

DDAVP comes as a nasal spray or pill and is taken before bedtime. The dose is adjusted until effective. Once it is working, the dose is tapered, if possible.

Side effects of DDAVP are uncommon but may include:

Tofranil

Tofranil is a tricyclic antidepressant that has been used to treat bed-wetting for about 30 years. How it works is not clear, but it is known to have a relaxing effect on the bladder, allowing the bladder to hold more urine comfortably.

Side effects of Tofranil tend to be rare with correct dosage but may include:

A warning: Tofranil can have toxic side effects if taken improperly. Deaths have been attributed to accidental overdoses.

Ditropan and Levsin

Ditropan and Levsin work by reducing unwanted bladder contractions. Side effects may include:

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 15, 2014

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