Symptoms of bedwetting 

Bedwetting is usually only regarded as a medical issue in children aged five or older who wet the bed at least twice a week.

Frequent bedwetting in children under the age of five isn't usually a cause for concern, unless the child is upset by it.

Bedwetting is sometimes classified into two types depending on when the problem develops. These are:

  • primary nocturnal enuresis – where the child has wet the bed (or their nappy) regularly since birth
  • secondary nocturnal enuresis – where the child begins to wet the bed after a period of at least six months of persistent dryness

Additional symptoms

In some cases, a child has additional symptoms related to their bedwetting, such as:

The medical name for this type of bedwetting is polysymptomatic enuresis. Bedwetting without additional symptoms is known as monosymptomatic enuresis.

When to seek medical advice

See a GP if:

  • your child is five or older and regularly wets the bed, and it bothers you or your child
  • bedwetting episodes are particularly upsetting, even if your child is younger than five 
  • your child has any additional symptoms (see above) along with bedwetting
  • your child has suddenly started wetting the bed after a long period of being dry at night

Aside from the physical effects, such as skin irritation, bedwetting can have a significant adverse impact on a child's self esteem and self confidence. You should seek medical help if you suspect this is the case.

If your child has additional symptoms or bedwetting that develops suddenly, they may have an underlying health problem such as type 1 diabetes or a urinary tract infection (usually a bacterial infection of the urinary tract), which requires treatment.

Page last reviewed: 27/03/2015

Next review due: 27/03/2017