Desmopressin for bed-wetting
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How It Works
Desmopressin acts on the kidneys to reduce the amount of urine produced at night. Its effects last between 7 and 12 hours.
Why It Is Used
Desmopressin is used in the treatment of bed-wetting (primary nocturnal enuresis) in children age 6 and older. Desmopressin may be used for some children when other treatments have been unsuccessful. It is usually not used until other treatments have been tried first. It may also be used on a temporary basis, such as when a child has a special overnight event.
How Well It Works
Desmopressin is usually effective when used for a short period of time, such as during times of emotional stress or during overnight trips or camping trips.
Children who wet the bed 4 nights a week or more can expect to have fewer wet nights when they take desmopressin.
Children with a family history of bed-wetting seem to have more success with desmopressin than with other treatments.
Most children have fewer nights with accidental wetting when taking desmopressin. But wetting tends to start again after they stop taking the medicine. Desmopressin usually does not cure bed-wetting.
Side effects of desmopressin are not common but may include:
- Abdominal pain.
- A slight rise in blood pressure and sudden redness (flushing) of the face.
A very rare but serious side effect of desmopressin is severe water retention that causes an imbalance of sodium and water in the body (called water intoxication, or hyponatremia). Water intoxication can lead to coma or death. Some signs of water intoxication are drowsiness (lethargy), vomiting, and nausea. To avoid this serious side effect, children taking desmopressin should not drink more than 8 fl oz (0.2 L) of liquids during the 2 to 3 hours just before bedtime.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Desmopressin often is used along with behavioral training to treat accidental wetting.
Do not give desmopressin to a child who has an illness that could cause a water and/or electrolyte imbalance, such as a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, the flu, or a bad cold. Talk to your doctor to find out when it is safe to give desmopressin to your child.
Desmopressin is not recommended for:
- Any child younger than 4.
- Any child who may be prone to a serious water and sodium imbalance (hyponatremia).
- Children with high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, or other conditions that affect the release of urine from the kidneys.
Children who are taking desmopressin need to drink less liquid in the evening to prevent water retention.
Desmopressin costs more than other forms of treatment for bed-wetting.
Last Updated: November 12, 2008
Author: Debby Golonka, MPH