Desmopressin for Bedwetting

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Desmopressin for Bedwetting


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How It Works

Desmopressin acts on the kidneys to reduce the amount of urine produced at night. Its effects last about 7 to 12 hours.

Why It Is Used

Desmopressin is used in the treatment of bedwetting (primary nocturnal enuresis) in children age 6 and older. Desmopressin may be used for some children when other treatments have been unsuccessful. 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 bedwetting 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 bedwetting.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine your child takes. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with the medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after your child takes the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother your child and you wonder if he or she should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower the dose or change the medicine. Do not suddenly have your child quit taking the medicine unless your doctor says so.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Side effects of desmopressin are not common but may include:

  • Headache.
  • Belly pain.
  • Nausea.
  • A slight rise in blood pressure and sudden redness (flushing) of the face.
  • Vomiting. If your child vomits after taking this medicine, call the doctor right away.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

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 250 mL (8 fl oz) of liquids during the 2 to 3 hours just before bedtime.

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.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. If your child takes medicine as your doctor suggests, it will improve your child's health and may prevent future problems. If your child doesn't take the medicines properly, his or her health (and perhaps life) may be at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 30, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.