A bedwetting alarm, or sometimes called “enuresis alarm,” is a device that helps children (and sometimes adults) deal with their involuntary urine discharge at night.
How does it work? The device is equipped with a moisture-sensitive sensor that when wet causes the alarm to make a sound, vibrate, and / or emit light.
Two Types of Enuresis Alarms
Based on the catalogue of a popular e-tailer, there are two general types of bedwetting alarms available for purchase.
The first type is a bed-pad-and-alarm combination. A bed pad is placed under a sheet or inside a pillow case, which is then positioned under the bedwetter. When the pad gets wet, the alarm is triggered. An example of this type is Nite Train-r’s Wet Call Bed-Side bedwetting alarm.
The other type is a body-worn alarm. A sensor is clipped to a bedwetter’s underwear or to where wetting is expected to occur first. The alarm sounds off and / or vibrate at the first hint of moisture. An example of this device is the Ultimate Bedwetting Alarm by Malem.
Do Bedwetting Alarms Work?
The effectiveness of enuresis alarms relies on habit formation. A pattern is developed when the bedwetter wakes up to the alarm and continues urination in the bathroom. This habit or process eventually becomes second nature until bedwetting becomes less frequent and then stops completely.
Sounds like a good idea on paper, but are enuresis alarms effective? This is the question in every parent’s mind, and here’s the answer.
Several studies investigating whether or not these alarms truly work have been published. Topics are varied, and they range from comparisons between bedwetting alarms vs other therapeutic optios up to assessment of these alarms.
Here are just a few of these studies and their summarized results.
– According to Kwak KW et.al., both enuresis alarms and desmopressin (drug therapy) are effective in achieving dryness. Their conclusion was obtained from subjecting a total of 104 children with monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis to either desmopressin (54) or enuresis alarm (50) as the first line of treatment.
– In a study comparing four different types of therapy options (obseration, imipramine, desmopressin acetate, and alarm therapy), researchers found the following result: Although each form of therapy improved continence over observation alone, only the bed-wetting alarm system demonstrated persistent effectiveness.
– According to this article, enuresis alarms appear more effective than desmopressin or tricyclics as evident in the result of a study reviewed by researchers from the Cochrane Incontinence Group.
So the answer to the question “Do bedwetting alarms work?” is a resounding yes.
But according to Jonathan H C Evans, a consultant paediatric nephrologist, although enuresis alarms are effective, there should be active participation between the parents and the child for the device (or other choices of treatment) to work.
Also, one must note that it requires weeks to months of continuous use before a bedwetter finally achieves dryness.