Dear Dr. Gott: I don’t have enough money to seek professional help, as I’m a single parent on a very low income. My 13-year-old daughter has been wetting the bed for 13 years. She doesn’t drink anything after 7 o’clock, and I get her up three or four times a night. What more can I do for better control?
Dear Reader: You raise two pertinent issues. I’ll address the bed-wetting first.
Most children outgrow this habit long before they reach their teens. Bed-wetting in a youngster used to be linked to stress and anxiety. Now, however, many urologists acknowledge that it may be caused by physical conditions, the most common ones being chronic urinary infections and inherited abnormalities of the urinary tract, both of which are relatively serious.
The first condition is diagnosed by a urine culture. If bacteria are present, antibiotics will eradicate the infection and put a stop to the bed-wetting.
The second condition is more difficult to identify and requires kidney/bladder X-rays and, possibly, cystoscopy (a technique to examine the lower urinary tract). It is possible that your daughter was born with an anomalous urinary system that may have to be surgically repaired.
This brings me to your second point, concerning your inability to pay for professional help.
Your daughter clearly needs to be examined and tested by a family doctor or a urologist. In addition, any prescription would have to be supplied by an M.D. For example, you may have heard of a new product called DDAVP nasal spray. This prescription hormone (vasopressin) is a compound that reduces urination. It is useful in treating children who do not have anatomical or infectious causes for their bed-wetting.
Thus, for your daughter to receive proper care and therapy, she will have to see a doctor first.
Despite what you may believe, most physicians (and hospitals) are willing to accept patients who are financially in trouble. Health-care providers will either discount (or forgive) the bill or help you obtain state or federal financial assistance such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
Please don’t let your low income deprive your daughter of necessary medical care. You do have options. Because your daughter has a potentially serious ailment, your first priority should be to get professional help for her.
To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Kidney Disorders” and “Bladder and Urinary Tract Infections.” Other readers who would like copies should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 per report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title(s).
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