Helping Your Child Cope With an Overactive Bladder

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
little boy with hands on groin area as if he needs to go to the bathroom

When an overactive bladder keeps your child close to a bathroom, it can force him or her to limit activities — making participation in school, sports and other social situations very difficult. But you can help your child take control of the situation.

What Is Overactive Bladder?

With an overactive bladder, nerves signal the bladder at the wrong time, which causes the bladder muscles to squeeze without warning.

This common bladder condition affects boys and girls. In many cases, children outgrow the problem or learn to respond more quickly to the body’s signals to urinate.

Symptoms, which can interfere with a child’s day-to-day routines, include:

  • Feeling a sudden, strong need to urinate immediately
  • Urine leakage
  • Urinating very frequently
  • Waking up two to three times during the night to urinate

It’s important to react to accidents with patience and understanding. If children do not outgrow the condition, they may be embarrassed to get help or believe nothing can be done.

What to Do About Overactive Bladder in Children

Talk to your doctor if you suspect your child has an overactive bladder. In many cases, the condition goes away on its own. If not, treatments and at-home measures can help your child overcome or manage this condition.

“Overactive bladder symptoms do not have to limit your activities or negatively impact your quality of life,” says pediatric urologist Lynn Woo, MD, Chief of Pediatric Urology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“It is important to rule out any underlying problems with the bowels or bladder first, but overactive bladder can be a very treatable condition,” she says.

Treatment options for overactive bladder include behavioral strategies as well as medications that regulate bladder function.

Often, children with overactive bladder have underlying or unrecognized constipation and may need further evaluation by a gastroenterologist, who specializes in digestive health issues.

Pediatric psychological support also can help children and adolescents cope with challenges of overactive bladder.

Related Links

The pediatric urologists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s offer evidence-based treatment options for a variety of common and complex urologic conditions. Our treatment options include the latest non-surgical and minimally invasive techniques as well as the most technologically advanced diagnostic and surgical equipment when needed. Learn more about pediatric urology services at UH Rainbow.

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