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What is daytime wetting?

Enuresis is the medical term for involuntary urination or “wetting.” Other words for this problem include incontinence, voiding problems, or urinary accidents. It can occur as continual leaking of urine or as episodes of leakage or dribbling when a child laughs or coughs. Up to 10 percent of 5-year-olds are estimated to have problems with wetting accidents. Accidents that happen at night are called bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis). Accidents that happen during the day are called daytime wetting (diurnal enuresis).

Daytime Wetting (Enuresis) | Symptoms & Causes

What causes daytime wetting?

There is no single cause for daytime wetting, but doctors believe that certain factors, such as genetics, may play a role. Other factors may include:

  • small functional bladder capacity
  • overactive bladder
  • constipation, which is backed-up stool in your child’s intestine that can push against the bladder and cause accidental urination
  • your child is too busy to stop and fully empty their bladder or may not notice the bladder is full
  • urinary tract infections

Daytime Wetting (Enuresis) | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is daytime wetting diagnosed?

In most cases, daytime wetting is diagnosed based on a review of a complete medical history along with a physical exam. However, diagnostic tests may be used to determine if there is an underlying medical problem. These tests include:

  • urinalysis
  • uroflowmetry (a noninvasive test used to measure pattern and quality of urine flow)
  • ultrasound
  • x-ray of the abdomen and pelvis

How is daytime wetting treated?

If a child is past potty-training age (usually 5 years old) and has frequent daytime accidents, we recommend making an appointment with a pediatric urologist. Although most kids outgrow daytime wetting, they can experience social embarrassment and, as a result, emotional stress because of this problem. The earlier the problem can be identified and treated, the better.

At the Boston Children’s Center for Healthy Elimination and Bladder Rehabilitation (CHEER), we will evaluate your child to make sure that a more serious underlying medical or surgical issue isn’t responsible for their daytime wetting. Then, we’ll work with your family to create a customized treatment plan tailored to your child’s individual needs. This may include:

  • behavior modification 
  • conditioning therapy
  • psychotherapy

We’ll guide your family throughout this process, offering solutions and support without shame.

Daytime Wetting (Enuresis) | Programs & Services