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 vesicoureteral reflux 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 vesicoureteral reflux in children. Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may indicate the presence of vesicoureteral reflux.
How is Vesicoureteral Reflux In Children 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 vesicoureteral reflux.
Vesicoureteral reflux in children is graded on a scale from I (mild) to V (severe). Many times, milder grades of vesicoureteral reflux will go away on their own as your child grows and develops. However, UTIs in the presence of vesicoureteral reflux can cause kidney infections, which can lead to scarring and sometimes result in kidney damage.
Depending on the severity of the vesicoureteral reflux in your child, your Nemours urologist may discuss several treatment options, 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 when kids who are old enough to control their bladder pee at night during sleep. It's a common problem in kids, especially those under 6 years old.
Why Does Bedwetting Happen?
Doctors don't know for sure what causes bedwetting or why it stops. But it's often a natural part of development, and kids usually grow out of it. It's most common in young kids, but can last into the teen years. Most of the time, bedwetting is not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues.
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.
How Can We Cope With Bedwetting?
Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night, and can be very stressful. 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 usually goes away on its own, but may last for a while. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for your child, so it's important to provide emotional support until it stops.
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 any other family members who struggled with it when they were young.
Try to have your child drink more fluids during the daytime hours and less at night (and avoid caffeine-containing drinks). Then remind your child to go to the bathroom one final time before bedtime. 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. Have your child help you change the sheets. Explain that this isn't punishment, but it is 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 Should I Call the Doctor?
Bedwetting that begins suddenly or happens with other symptoms can be a sign of another medical condition, so talk with your doctor.
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 pee often
is drinking or eating much more than usual
has swelling of the feet or ankles
is 7 years of age or older and still wetting the bed
Also let the doctor know if your child is under a lot of stress, if you're feeling frustrated with the situation, or if you could use some help. In the meantime, your support and patience can go a long way in helping your child feel better about and overcome the bedwetting.
Remember, the long-term outlook is excellent and in almost all cases, dry days are just ahead.
Reviewed by: Marcella A. Escoto, DO
Date reviewed: April 28, 2017