Teenage bed wetting occurs in 3% of 14-year-olds and 1% of 18-year-olds. Girls are relatively more likely to be adolescent bedwetters, boys tend to improve as they mature. Once a child has reached the age of 16-18 there is no reassurance incontinence will go away. As a result, it is considered a chronic illness for an adolescent.
If there are any medical concerns, or bed wetting occurs spontaneously during the teenage years, it would pay to consult a medical professional to rule out any medical or neurological problems.
Usually, teenage bed wetting is associated with small bladder capacity or overproduction of urine at night time and heavy sleep. Drinking alcohol aggravates the condition.
For those with overactive bladders (where the child has to toilet urgently and risks wetting their pants on the way to the bathroom), bladder training to stretch and strengthen the bladder is important. Make sure your teenager drinks at least 8 glasses of water a day to help increase their bladder capacity. Also, introduce a programme of timed toilet visits during the day to reduce 'urge' visits and get them to practise relaxation techniques while toileting, and around urge feelings.
Due to the fact that teenage bed wetting is not as common as bed wetting in younger children, teenagers may have a heightened sense of embarrassment and social isolation. Parents need to be mindful of this and give their teenagers as much support as possible.
Bedwetting alarms can be used successfully with teenagers to treat Primary Nocturnal Enuresis where the teenager has never had significant periods of dry nights. By the teenage years, they are often highly motivated to overcome their bed wetting so getting them on board to treat it can be easier than with younger children. By training the teenager to wake when the bladder is full, an alarm mimics the natural process of arousal from sleep that occurs in non-bedwetters. Over time the mind-body connection will develop whereby the teenager can recognise the feeling of a full bladder before they start wetting the bed and wake up.
The alarm preferred by teenagers is the DRI Sleeper Eclipse as it is wireless and discreet to wear.
Read next: How to stop bedwetting with an alarm