Enuresis in children: A case-based approach

Drew C. Baird, Dean A. Seehusen, David V. Bode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Enuresis is defined as intermittent urinary incontinence during sleep in a child at least five years of age. Approximately 5% to 10% of all seven-year-olds have enuresis, and an estimated 5 to 7 million children in the United States have enuresis. The pathophysiology of primary nocturnal enuresis involves the inability to awaken from sleep in response to a full bladder, coupled with excessive nighttime urine production or a decreased functional capacity of the bladder. Initial evaluation should include a history, physical examination, and urinalysis. Several conditions, such as constipation, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, chronic kidney disease, and psychiatric disorders, are associated with enuresis. If identified, these conditions should be evaluated and treated. Treatment of primary monosymptomatic enuresis (i.e., the only symptom is nocturnal bed-wetting in a child who has never been dry) begins with counseling the child and parents on effective behavioral modifications. First-line treatments for enuresis include bed alarm therapy and desmopressin. The choice of therapy is based on the child’s age and nighttime voiding patterns, and the desires of the child and family. Referral to a pediatric urologist is indicated for children with primary enuresis refractory to standard and combination therapies, and for children with some secondary causes of enuresis, including urinary tract malformations, recurrent urinary tract infections, or neurologic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-568
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican family physician
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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