An in-depth look at possible diagnoses for your child’s bedwetting, bladder and bowel problems

In our previous blog, we listed some possible medical causes for your child’s bladder and bowel problems. Today, we will go into more depth of some of these diagnoses, what they mean, and how you can make sense of this medical terminology. Just remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. 

Nocturnal Enuresis: Also called nocturnal incontinence or simply, bedwetting. This is urine leaking that occurs while your child is asleep. Bedwetting is three times as prevalent in boys (i.e., around 75% of sufferers are male). Bedwetting can happen when your child sleeps deeply and their bladder sensations are not strong enough to rouse them from a deep slumber. Bedwetting can be aggravated by bladder irritating foods or beverages, especially if consumed after dinner. Too much water or milk before bed are common culprits of causing a full or irritated bladder increasing the likelihood of leaking in the middle of the night. (Note: I remember when my son didn’t want to sleep he would ask for a glass of water. What good mother would deny their child water, right?)

Other possibilities can be constipation, incomplete bladder emptying or limited awareness or weakness of their pelvic floor muscles.

Daytime Enuresis: Urine leaking, or incontinence, while your child is awake. This diagnosis describes the symptom but not the cause of the leaking. At the age of 7 approximately 3% of girls and 2% of boys experience functional daytime wetting at least once a week. If your child occasionally has wet pants while playing or distracted, there is no reason to be concerned, but if it is a common occurrence then there may be underlying reasons for the leaking. Just like bedwetting, leaking during the day can be the result of dietary influences (consuming bladder irritants), constipation, problematic toileting habits (e.g. skipping going to the bathroom when they are having too much fun on the playground) or pelvic floor muscle weakness.

Overactive Bladder: This used to be calling bladder instability. Symptoms commonly include high frequency of “peeing” (more than 8 times per 24 hours), bladder urgency that is difficult to control, and possibly some urine leaking. An example of a common scenario for a child with overactive bladder would be losing urine while running to the bathroom or opening the door to the house.
Yes–you guessed it, Overactive Bladder can also be aggravated by diet (bladder irritants), constipation, problematic toileting habits or pelvic floor muscle weakness. Are you detecting a pattern here?

Urge Incontinence: This is a type of daytime enuresis and is the most common form of functional incontinence in children. It is accompanied by overactive bladder and may have some or all of the symptoms of Overactive Bladder. Again, urge incontinence can be aggravated by any of the above reasons stated before for Bedwetting, Daytime Enuresis and Overactive Bladder.

Other reasons for urine leaking such as neurological, hormonal possibilities as always should be ruled out by your pediatrician.

A pediatric pelvic floor physical therapist can teach your child bladder awareness, good bladder habits and exercises to improve the strength of your child’s pelvic floor, reducing or usually resolving your child’s leaking problems. Our child centered program keeps your child’s concerns and goals central while developing individualized treatment programs.

At Pelvic Wellness Center, we’re dedicated to helping you and your child manage “accidents”! Call us at (541) 515-6215 in Eugene and at (503) 983-8811 in Salem to discuss how we can help your child.

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