Overactive bladder in children can cause issues and anxiousness for some households. This condition, especially with younger children, can result in more wetting accidents both during the day and at night. Additionally, the uncertainty of the condition can make any outing stressful for both child and parent. Going to any new place might make you constantly wonder, where is the closet restroom? And, can we get to a restroom in a moment’s notice if we need to?
While all families address wetting accidents early on with a young child, a much smaller percentage of families continue to have issues with overactive bladder in children as the child ages. In most cases, young children grow out of bed wetting and daytime accidents. For those children, though, who continue to have issues with frequent urination and wetting accidents beyond early childhood, parents and families might need additional support.
In this post, we want to break down all the facets of what you need to know about overactive bladder in children. We cover everything from the definition to the symptoms to the treatment. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide for families who feel they might have a case of overactive bladder and what they can do to address it well.
What is Overactive Bladder in Children?
First, any conversation about overactive bladder in children needs to start with defining the condition. While almost every small child has at least a few accidents from time to time, overactive bladder is something else altogether. Accidental wetting associated with potty training typically ends about 3 years of age. With a case of overactive bladder, though, issues will usually continue until much later past ages 6 or 7.
Overactive bladder is a type of urinary incontinence, which simply means that there is a loss of normal bladder control. Overactive bladder in children is a condition in which a child feels the urge to urinate quite frequently. Many times this can be several times every hour. Sometimes, even, the child doesn’t even feel the urge to urinate but just does so without warning. For young children, this can result in many accidents with wetting simply due to the frequency and urgency of the need to urinate.
Signs and Symptoms of Overactive Bladder in Children
Secondly, now that we have established that overactive bladder in children is a specific condition, we need to next talk through some of its prominent symptoms. Again, sometimes overactive bladder can be confused with normal potty training and bed wetting. Most every child will experience bed wetting as they transition out of diapers. With overactive bladder, though, you want to look for bed wetting and wetting accidents past the normal period for adjustment with potty training.
Typically, this means a child continues to have wetting accidents during the day after 3 years of age, or has consistent bedwetting accidents after age 4. If you notice either of these issues on a regular basis, they can point to a possible case of overactive bladder. Additionally, other common symptoms might include simply asking to use the bathroom several times in a short amount of time on a continual basis. Furthermore, another indicator might be frequently rushing to the toilet. Finally, interrupted sleep can possibly also point to a problem with overactive bladder.
Causes of Overactive Bladder in Children
Next, before we get to the treatment of overactive bladder in children, let’s consider some of the causes. As a parent, you never want to simply blame a child for acting out or having accidents on purpose. If you really are dealing with a case of overactive bladder in children, your child more than likely can’t control when they have to urinate.
Instead of shaming your child for accidents, you need to start looking at some reasons why it might be occurring. Oftentimes, overactive bladder in children arises out of common triggers or as result of certain stimuli. For instance, one major cause of overactive bladder especially for young children is consuming too much caffeine. Caffeine, often found in drinks marketed to children, acts as a diuretic which normally forces fluids out of your body. For young children whose muscles are weak, this action can speed up the process and lead to wetting accidents.
Other causes can include having an allergy to something the child has eaten. Furthermore, anxiety or feeling stressed about something in the child’s life can act as an underlying cause. Finally, issues related to how the bladder is structured or irritation from infection can cause symptoms. Any one or more of these things can lead to a frequent urgent need to urinate.
Treatment for Overactive Bladder in Children
Once you understand the causes of overactive bladder in children, you next can consider an appropriate treatment. For most children, as they develop, their muscles become stronger and their body systems start functioning more in unison. This natural development process usually helps to alleviate any bladder issue concerns over time. For some children, though, who continually deal with overactive bladder problems additional intervention might be needed.
Many times, the first step of intervention involves a system of bladder retraining. Bladder retraining involves going back to the beginning of potty training. You then try to get your child on a set urination schedule. You have your child go on a set regular schedule even if they don’t feel the urge to go. The idea behind this approach is to help teach your child to pay attention to when they need to urinate. It also trains the body to process urine regularly.
Other treatment options could include double voiding, whereby you ask your child to try to go again right after they urinate. This method seeks to make sure the bladder is always emptied fully after each trip to the bathroom. Additionally, in consultation with your pediatrician you might consider therapy or even medication. Some medications which your doctor can prescribe can help reduce the constant urges to use the bathroom.
Finally, you can also utilize some simple home remedy approaches such as restricting caffeine consumption and helping your child maintain a healthy diet. These approaches encourage good overall health practices which can aid in your child’s natural bladder development.
Overactive Bladder and Bed Wetting
Finally, many people automatically connect overactive bladder in children with bed wetting. The connection simply seems natural. If a child has issues with needing to go frequently, it just seems to make sense that they might have trouble also with bed wetting at night. In general, overactive bladder and bed wetting are not the same thing. Bed wetting, though, just as wetting accidents during the day, can appear as one of the symptoms of overactive bladder in children.
As we’ve talked about already, bed wetting happens to most very young children as they transition out of diapers. Typically, though, this resolves itself by the time the child turns 3. If the bed wetting persists after this age, you might look into whether or not overactive bladder is the cause. Still, though, some children develop slower. As a result, they might still have wetting issues after they turn 3 but not have overactive bladder. Overactive bladder typically isn’t officially diagnosed until age 5 or 6. When in doubt, you should always consult your pediatrician.
Just keep in mind, though, that if your child is very young and is still potty training, it’s probably too soon to know if overactive bladder is causing problems. Most of the time, you need to wait until after the child has progressed past the potty training stage and symptoms continue to occur to know what’s really going on.
Consulting Your Pediatrician about Overactive Bladder in Children
If after reading through this article, you feel as if your child has a case of overactive bladder in children, your next step should involve consulting your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can work with you to develop an action plan for addressing the situation. While overactive bladder in children isn’t a concern that would really necessitate a trip to urgent care, nonetheless, consultation with your pediatrician during a regular visit can help you find a remediation to the problem.
Your pediatrician can provide you and your family an action plan for addressing overactive bladder in children on a holistic front. Many times, finding a right approach might require implementing several changes in several areas at the same time. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of different approaches. Your pediatrician can be an invaluable aid to help you find the right solution for your household.