Health A-Z

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The doctor will ask about any family history of bedwetting. If one or both parents were affected during childhood, the doctor will want to know the age when a parent's bedwetting stopped. In many cases, a child's bedwetting will stop around the same age.

The doctor will ask about your child's eating and drinking habits, especially about drinking right before bedtime and eating snacks that melt into liquids, such as ice cream or gelatin desserts. In a child who has been dry in the past, your doctor will want to know about any unusual stresses, either at home or at school, that might be triggering the bedwetting.

To rule out medical illnesses and conditions as a cause of your child's bedwetting, the doctor will ask about additional symptoms related to a urinary tract infection or diabetes. The doctor will ask whether there is anything unusual about the way your child urinates, including straining during urination or changes in his or her urine stream.

The doctor will examine your child, paying special attention to your child's belly (abdomen), genital area and lower spine, looking for any physical changes in these areas. The doctor will order a test of your child's urine (urinalysis) to look for signs of a urinary tract infection or diabetes. In most cases, your doctor can make a correct diagnosis based on your child's age, the history of bedwetting, any additional symptoms, and the results of the physical examination and urine test.

If your child has symptoms that suggest a urinary tract infection, diabetes or other problems, additional tests may be needed. Children with primary nocturnal enuresis do not routinely need X-rays or other tests that measure bladder size, shape or function.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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