Healthy kidneys filter waste from the blood, producing urine which normally flows only one direction: down the ureters and into the bladder. When something is wrong with the connection between the ureter and the bladder, the urine may flow back up (reflux) from the bladder to the ureters and at times to the kidneys.
If you have had VUR as a child, there is a chance that your children will have the condition. In addition, if one of your children has it, his or her brothers and sisters may also have the condition, too.
Infrequent or incomplete urination, as well as constipation, are also associated with VUR. Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may indicate the presence of VUR.
How is VUR diagnosed and treated?
Your Nemours pediatric urologist may order a test called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) that uses X-rays and a special dye to show how your child’s bladder is working. This test can help determine if your child has VUR.
VUR is graded on a scale from I (mild) to V (severe). Many times, milder grades of VUR will go away on their own as your child grows and develops. However, UTIs in the presence of VUR can cause kidney infections, which can lead to scarring and sometimes result in kidney damage.
Depending on the severity of the VUR, your Nemours urologist may discuss several treatment options for your child, including antibiotics to prevent infections, surgery to repair the ureters, or endoscopic treatment in which a small telescope is inserted through the bladder and a gel is placed at the point where the ureter meets the bladder.
Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night. It is extremely common among young kids but can last into the teen years.
Doctors don't know for sure what causes bedwetting or why it stops. But it is often a natural part of development, and kids usually grow out of it. Most of the time bedwetting is not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues.
All the same, bedwetting can be very stressful for families. Kids can feel embarrassed and guilty about wetting the bed and anxious about spending the night at a friend's house or at camp. Parents often feel helpless to stop it.
Bedwetting may last for a while, but providing emotional support and reassurance can help your child feel better until it stops.
How Common Is Bedwetting?
Nocturnal enuresis, the medical name for bedwetting, is a common problem in kids, especially children under the 6 years old. About 13% of 6-year-olds wet the bed, while about 5% of 10-year-olds do.
Bedwetting often runs in families: many kids who wet the bed have a relative who did, too. If both parents wet the bed when they were young, it's very likely that their child will.
Coping With Bedwetting
Bedwetting usually goes away on its own. But until it does, it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for your child. So it's important to provide support and positive reinforcement during this process.
Reassure your child that bedwetting is a normal part of growing up and that it's not going to last forever. It may comfort your child to hear about other family members who also struggled with it when they were young.
Remind your child to go to the bathroom one final time before bedtime. Try to have your child drink more fluids during the daytime hours and less at night. Avoid caffeine-containing drinks. Many parents find that using a motivational system, such as stickers for dry nights with a small reward (such as a book) after a certain number of stickers, can work well. Bedwetting alarms also can be helpful.
When your child wakes with wet sheets, don't yell or punish him or her. Have your child help you change the sheets. Explain that this isn't punishment, but it is a part of the process. It may even help your child feel better knowing that he or she helped out. Offer praise when your child has a dry night.
When to Call the Doctor
Bedwetting that begins abruptly or is accompanied by other symptoms can be a sign of another medical condition, so talk with your doctor.
The doctor may check for signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), constipation, bladder problems, diabetes, or severe stress.
Call the doctor if your child:
suddenly starts wetting the bed after being consistently dry for at least 6 months
begins to wet his or her pants during the day
snores at night
complains of a burning sensation or pain when urinating
has to urinate frequently
is drinking or eating much more than usual
has swelling of the feet or ankles
your child is still wetting the bed at age 7 years
Also let the doctor know if your child is experiencing a lot of stress, if you're feeling frustrated with the situation, or could use some help. In the meantime, your support and patience can go a long way in helping your child feel better about the bedwetting.
Remember, the long-term outlook is excellent and in almost all cases dry days are just ahead.