Bed-Wetting: Approaches to Nocturnal Enuresis in Children

Elizabeth C. Scheffel, PharmD; Edward M. DeSimone II, RPh, PhD, FAPhA; Michael H. Davidian, MD, MS


US Pharmacist. 2017;42(5):32-36. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Nocturnal enuresis can be frustrating for children and their families as the child ages, but clinical intervention generally is not warranted until the child is 5 to 7 years old. If nocturnal enuresis is left untreated, resolving the problem can become more difficult. A diagnosis of nocturnal enuresis requires careful coordination of both the patient and the family for optimal outcomes and to avoid relapse. Many treatment plans are founded on motivational therapy and enuresis alarms. Desmopressin and imipramine are FDA-approved for the treatment of nocturnal enuresis in patients older than 6 years. Use of these medications requires thorough counseling by a pharmacist to ensure that the family understands that these medications cannot cure nocturnal enuresis, but are used only for symptom treatment.


In the United States, 5 to 7 million children experience isolated bed-wetting at night, clinically known as nocturnal enuresis.[1] This nighttime voiding is not seen as problematic until the child is 5 years old, and even then some professionals will not intervene until the child is 7 years old. Achieving the ability to control bladder function is usually the last step in toilet training.