Bedwetting alarm

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Editor(s)-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S.,M.D. [1] Phone:617-632-7753; Steven C. Campbell, M.D., Ph.D., [2] Phone:216-444-5595 Professor of Surgery, Residency Program Director, Section of Urologic Oncology, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic.


A bedwetting alarm is an electronic device which is used to alert children and adults that they are in the process of urinating while asleep (this is known as nocturnal enuresis). Bedwetting alarms are currently the only curative approach available for people suffering from bedwetting issues.

Alarms come in several different styles: wearable alarms, wireless alarms, and pad-type alarms. While there is some variation in the styles of the alarms, they all function similarly; each alarm has a moisture sensor component and an alarm component. When the child first begins to urinate the sensor will detect the moisture and sound the alarm.

Bedwetting alarms are a treatment tool designed to teach people to respond to a full bladder by waking and using the toilet. The alarm alerts the brain to the fact that urination has begun and that the person should stop, wake, and finish urinating in the toilet. This alert helps begin to condition the brain to register the bladder’s need to urinate. Unlike a standard alarm clock that is set to arbitrarily awaken a person to use the toilet while sleeping, a bedwetting alarm reacts to the person’s biological need to urinate. This conditioning method can only work with a bedwetting alarm, which senses urine and sounds. The time and amount a person urinates each night changes, so waking someone at a pre-determined time is ineffective. Bedwetting alarms are a mainstay in enuresis treatment and an easy first step to a solution.

Wearable Alarms

A wearable alarm is a design in which the child wears the moisture sensor in or on their underwear or pajamas. This type of sensor will detect moisture almost immediately. The sensor is attached to the alarm unit with a cord that can be worn under the shirt.

Wireless Alarms

A wireless bedwetting alarm is one in which the sensor and the alarm unit communicate by a means other than a wire. The transmitter, which senses the moisture, is directly attached to the child's underwear. The signal is transmitted wirelessly to a unit that is across the room from the child or an alarm unit in the child's room. Once the alarm unit is activated, it is necessary to get out of bed to turn it off.

Pad-type Alarms

Bell-and pad alarms do not attach to the child in any way. The moisture sensor is in the form of a pad or mat that the child sleeps on top of. The pad detects moisture after urine has leaked onto it. The alarm unit is connected with a cord and usually sits on the bedside stand. This alarm requires a larger amount of urine before the sensor can detect moisture. The person must be on the pad for it to sense moisture.