Bed Wetting and ADHD – are they related?

We are going to address this question today.

Children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more likely than their counterparts to have problems with bedwetting and other symptoms of bladder control, according to  a new study.

If your child suffers from ADHD and experiences bed wetting, you will definitely want to read this …

Turkish researchers found that among 62 children with ADHD and 124 without the disease, children with ADHD scored significantly higher in a survey on “emptying” symptoms – difficulty emptying the bladder.

In particular, they tended to have more problems with enuresis and habitual feeling of an urgent need to go to the bathroom.
Previous research has suggested that up to 30 percent of children with attention deficit disorders have had problems with wetting themselves, either during the day or during sleep – what doctors called enuresis.

The new findings suggest that “the impact of all the problems with urination, not only enuresis, increase in children with ADHD,” Dr. Ozgu Aydogdu, an investigator of the study, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

It is not entirely clear why this is so. But it might have to do with the stimulant medications for ADHD or with the disorder itself, according to Aydogdu, Ankara University School of Medicine in Turkey.

A paediatric urologist, who was not involved in the study, said it “helps to shed light” on the association between ADHD and urinary problems.
But the small size limits the conclusions to be drawn, said Dr. Lane S. Palmer, director of paediatric urology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.
“I think people know that this association exists, but has not been well catalogued,” Palmer told Reuters Health.

He said large studies are still needed both to clarify the incidence of bladder control problems in children with ADHD, and to understand the reasons. Side effects of drugs could be a factor, Palmer said, but research is needed to confirm that.

The new findings, published in the Journal of Urology, are based on symptom diaries and questionnaires given to parents of 62 children with ADHD and 124 without the disease who served as a “control” group.

On average, children with ADHD scored an 11 on a questionnaire to measure urinary tract symptoms – such as bedwetting and common sense of an urgent need to urinate or to “hold” it. In general, a score of nine or more suggests bladder problems, according to researchers. In contrast, the average score of the ADHD-free group was three.

When the researchers examined the diaries of symptoms in children, 22 percent of the ADHD group had problems such as enuresis or urinary incontinence for three days. That compares with 5 percent in the control group.

The rates of ADHD vary by state, but up to of 9.5 percent of U.S. children between 4 and 17 – a total of 5.4 million children in 2007 – have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual costs associated with the conditions range from $ 12,000 to 17,000 for each child.

For parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, awareness is very imperative, according to Palmer.
“Parents should be aware that some of these children have difficulty with urination,” said Palmer.
He added that some parents might think that the problems with urination are “only a part” of ADHD. “But they should be aware that it can be addressed,” he said.

According to Palmer, the treatment usually means different types of behavioural changes – such as restricting fluids in the evening and children carrying a programmable watch that reminds them to go to the bathroom at regular intervals during the day.

It may be more difficult for children with ADHD to make the changes relative to other children. So it is important to individualize therapy in children, Palmer said, that means creating smaller goals along the way for children with ADHD. By setting small and easy-attainable goals along the way, you will give your child the confidence to overcome bed wetting and bladder control.

For example: rewarding your child for every dry night or every two dry nights, will boost their confidence.
Another very useful tip that we’ve seen work with numerous parents is to put the control in your child’s hands. Get your child a simple bed wetting alarm and let them become more independent to wake up at the sound of the alarm and go to the bathroom.

Many parents said that they thought it would never work, but when they trusted their child with the responsibility, they were pleasantly surprised at how their child was actually excited to use their new alarm.

One mother said:
“My son saw it (bed wetting alarm) as some new gadget to play with and after the 3rd night, he had mastered it and was waking up and walking down the hall to the bathroom all by himself. My husband and I would listen quietly from our bedroom expecting Alex to call for help, but the toilet flushed, he went back to bed, woke up to dry sheets, and our son was so proud of himself!”

Note: not all of the  alarms are simple, but here is one of the easiest bed wetting alarms to use and most-recommended by parents.