The bladder is an organ which stores urine and voids it irregularly. Children do not automatically possess the control over their bladder and they have to learn how to do that (potty training). Because they cannot control the bladder, they seem to pee every couple of hours. After some time kids learn how to empty the bladder and they do not wet themselves anymore.
Is Enuresis in Children Common?
Bed-wetting over night may continue in children older than 3 or 4 years of age. If that happens several times over a month or once a month in children older than 7 years, the kid is diagnosed to suffer from nocturnal (nighttime) enuresis. This condition is usually diagnosed in girls over 5 years and boys older than 6 years of age, who cannot control the bladder during the sleep and wake up wet.
Most kids achieve bladder control somewhere around their 5th or 6th birthday (up to 85% of them). In 12-year-olds, just some 5% is known to have problems with nocturnal enuresis and this percent is even lower in teenagers and adults (around 1%).
In general, doctors do not treat kids younger than 5 years of age for this problem. They automatically consider that these children have delayed maturation of bladder function, unless, of course, there are some other symptoms, indicating diseases or conditions which may have contributed to development of enuresis.
Classification and Causes of Enuresis
Enuresis can be primary or secondary condition, depending on the control the child has over his bladder. Primary means that the child have never had a dry night but knows how to control the bladder during the day. Secondary enuresis is condition characterized by a period of good bladder control and then problem recurrence with nighttime bed-wetting.
Enuresis is also differentiated depending on the cause of the problem. A condition caused by infections or malformations of the urinary tract is called organic, while kids who have anatomically normal urinary tract but still experience bed-wetting during the night are diagnosed with non-organic (functional) enuresis.
Functional or non-organic type of enuresis has no apparent cause, but doctors are convinced that the reason for this problem can be found in delayed maturation of the bladder function. Some 95% of all cases of nocturnal enuresis are like this and there is no explanation why these kids suffer from nighttime bed-wetting. Organic causes are rarer, so someone who has urinary tract infection (UTI) can temporarily suffer from enuresis. Anatomical problems of the urinary tract can also explain why the child wets himself/herself at night.