Overactive Bladder in Children – When they’ve got to go, and go, and go…

If you thought that incontinence was something that only the elderly suffer from, think again. Urinary incontinence, often caused by an overactive bladder, is a condition that also affects children often causing embarrassment and tears. Read on to arm yourself with information on the causes and treatment of overactive bladder:

What Are the Signs of Overactive Bladder in Children?

Your child might need to urinate frequently and might not make it on time to the toilet before urine begins to flow.

What Causes Overactive Bladder in Children?

Children with overactive bladders have a need to urinate more often than usual because their bladder muscles have uncontrollable spasms. The muscles surrounding the urethra, the tube from the bladder that urine passes through, can be affected. These muscles are meant to prevent urine from leaving the body, but they may be “overridden” if the bladder undergoes a strong contraction causing a need to urinate as the urinary tract becomes inflamed and uncomfortable. Certain neurological conditions may cause these symptoms.

Another cause of overactive bladder is a condition called Pollakiuria, or frequent daytime urination syndrome. Children who have Pollakiuria urinate frequently. In some cases, they may urinate every 5 to 10 minutes or urinate between 10 and 30 times a day. This condition is most common among children aged 3 to 8 and is present only during waking hours. There are no other symptoms present. Doctors believe that Pollakiuria is related to stress. The good news is that the condition usually goes away after 2 to 3 weeks without requiring treatment.

Other causes of overactive bladder in children include:

  • Consumption of caffeine, which increases urine output and can cause spasms in the bladder muscle
  • Consumption of ingredients that your child may be allergic to
  • Events that cause anxiety
  • Infrequent urination (holding urine for too long a period of time)
  • Small bladder capacity
  • Structural abnormalities in the bladder or urethra
  • Constipation


How Is Overactive Bladder in Children Treated?

In most cases, children outgrow the problem of an overactive bladder. For each year after the age of 5, the number of overactive bladder cases declines. Your child may learn to respond timeously to the body’s signals to urinate or bladder capacity may increase over time. In addition, overactive bladders can “settle down,” often when stressful events or experiences have ended.

If your child does not outgrow the condition, treatments can include bladder training and medication. In bladder training, exercises are used to strengthen and coordinate the urethra and bladder muscles to control urination. These exercises teach your child to prevent urinating when away from the toilet and to anticipate the urge to urinate. Additional techniques to help overactive bladder include:

  • Avoiding caffeine or other ingredients that may encourage overactive bladder
  • Using timed voiding, or urinating on a schedule – for example, every 2 hours
  • Adopting healthy urination habits, such as taking enough time to urinate and relaxing muscles during urination

Incontinence often makes children feel ashamed and insecure – your calm, reassuring manner will go a long way to helping your little one overcome the problem.

Need more advice on overactive bladder in children? Give us a call – we’re always happy to help.