Don’t let bedwetting put a damper on camp
Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, can be highly distressing for a child. But it “abso-lutely” needn’t deter kids from attending summer camp, says Michele George, interim
director Accredited of the camps Alberta have Camping a variety Association. of strategies for managing bedwetting, he says. Ideally, it starts with parents telling the camp about their child’s bedwetting tendencies. Even if their child only occasionally wets the bed, it’s important to bring the matter to the camp’s attention,
says George. “Overcoming a small amount of embarrassment at this point can potentially save the child far greater embarrassment if something happens at camp and nobody’s aware of it or prepared for it.” About 15 per cent of children at five years old are not fully continent, says family physician Dr. Supriya Goyal. Before that age, bedwetting is not diagnosed because a child’s bladder is still developing.
There are two types of nocturnal enuresis: primary and secondary. Primary enuresis is diagnosed when a child — five years of age or older — has never achieved bladder control at night. Secondary enuresis is diagnosed when a child who has been continent for a period of six months or longer has regressed to wetting the bed.
Causes of enuresis may include the child being a deep sleeper, delayed physical maturity, constipation, diabetes, family history, a urinary tract
infection or excessive fluid intake during the day. Goyal says non-medical solutions include voiding frequently throughout the day and — in the evening — drinking less, abstaining from highsugar drinks and peeing before bed. It’s also important to tell children it’s not their fault. “Children feel very guilty. Really give positive reinforcement if the child has stayed dry,” says Goyal. A bedwetting alarm provides a solution for some children, but it requires a commitment from the family over a long period of time, says Goyal. An alarm goes off when an electronic sensor (placed either on the child or his bedding) detects moisture. Once the child is fully awake, he should be encouraged to finish peeing in the toilet.
The alarm needs to be introduced at least six weeks before camp begins. Alarms can be purchased at medical supply stores, through your pharmacist or from online sellers. A quick and effective medical treatment involves giving the child desmopressin (or DDAVP), which relaxes the bladder muscles and inhibits quick voiding. “But bedwetting comes back when
you stop it,” cautions Goyal. DDAVP should be given one week before camp to see if it works. Because of the drug’s possible side effects, which include stomach cramps and nausea, DDAVP is a short-term treatment that generally isn’t used longer than eight weeks, says Goyal.
Many camps openly discuss bedwetting and other sensitive matters at a general assembly during the camp’s orientation. If a child does wet the bed during the night at camp, personnel should be notified so the child can take a shower the next day, and if facilities exist, wet bedding and clothing can be laundered.
The camping association recommends concerned parents send their children to camp with an extra sleeping bags, pyjamas, clothing and night-time training pants, such as Pull-ups. “Just go to camp and have a great time,” says George. “Don’t worry about the bedwetting.”