Signs that your child needs help with bladder or bowel problems

Last week we discussed signs of “normal” bladder and bowel habits in children…so now, how do we detect problems in the bathroom for children who are otherwise potty trained? If your child is over 5 and you suspect problems, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Here are some things to be on the lookout for.

Signs that your child may be experiencing bladder problems

Urine streams consistently sounding hesitant, weak, or intermittent.
If you happen to be watching, you may also notice your child straining to void their bladder–they may use hands over the lower belly to push.

Urine should not be dark or stinky!
Discolored or smelly pee could be the sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI.) And remember, if there is any blood present in urine–even once–contact your child’s doctor right away.

Bladder and bowel problems in childrenConsistently “holding it”
Does you child often place him/herself in funny looking poses, like squatting with heels placing pressure over the perineum (genital region) or dancing around on tippy toes? These are ‘’holding maneuvers’’ or strategies your child has found to stop the urge (or feeling they need to urinate). If this is consistent, we need to find out why!

Waking up wet
Again, after the age of  five, children should remain dry at night. This may coincide with a daytime leakage problem, too.

“Going” all the time
Does your child seem to “go” all the time? Remember, trips to the bathroom consistently more than 8 times a day could indicate a bladder problem.

Signs that your child may be experiencing bowel problems

Consistently complaining of a tummy ache
Most children complain of a little stomach ache from time to time, but if this is a consistent pattern, please take them seriously.  If you’re not checking in on their trips to the toilet, this may be the only indication that your child is struggling with constipation, or even a urinary tract infection.  Exhibiting behaviors such as placing their hand over their belly is also a sign to look out for. In fact, children should not have pain! If they consistently indicating abdominal or back pain, this should always be investigated by your child’s healthcare provider.

Not going enough
Perhaps your child never seems to “go”. Less than 3 times a day for peeing and less than 3 times a week for bowel movements should raise concern.

Misshapen stools
Very loose stools may indicate bowel issues, including impacted stool (loose stool will find its way around the hard stuff!) If your child seems to be spending lots of time in the bathroom, let their healthcare provider know.

Leakage of bowel OR bladder
If your child is leaking bladder OR bowel contents, whether it is a daily occurrence, or 1-2 times a month, this should be investigated. You, or someone else (school teacher, daycare provider, etc) may notice an odor or wetness. Your child may seem “sneaky” about this one. They may come home from school, change their underwear and hide the evidence. Please be gentle in approaching this. Many children are actually aware that this is not “normal” and may begin to feel negative feelings including shame and embarrassment.

Questions? Call us!

I hope this is helpful for parents looking to understand their child’s bathroom habits. Again, one of your strongest allies here is talking to your child…but of course I can’t stress enough…gently, please. You may need to be firm about gathering the information, however maintaining a compassionate position when doing so is key to progress.

If you feel your child is consistently demonstrating the aforementioned behaviors or signs, please talk your child’s healthcare provider. Your child may require medical treatment for anything from a urinary tract infection–a problem of the kidney and bladder organs themselves. Their problem could just be an issue of muscle coordination. In addition to the pediatrician and/or pediatric urology specialist, your physical therapist is an important partner in getting your child back to better bladder and bowel health!

Questions about anything we’ve covered here? Don’t hesitate to contact us today!