What is an Overactive Bladder?

What is an Overactive Bladder?

What is an Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder is a common childhood condition which can lead them to having accidents during the day. 

Now, an overactive bladder is not the same as bedwetting. Bedwetting is more common in children and can accompany an overactive bladder but is usually unrelated to it

So What is an overactive bladder? 

An overactive bladder can be defined as a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate. One common symptom of an overactive bladder in children is the urge to wee more often than normal, and sometimes, urgently! 

So what is normal? A normal amount of bathroom visits for a child is somewhere between 5 to 7 times a day. So if your child is running to the toilet more than this in a day, then this could be a sign for you to investigate. Even though their bladder may not be full, with an overactive bladder, the bladder may contract and cause the feeling of needing to do a wee.

Below this article I’ll include a chart you can download called a frequency/volume chart. You’re welcome to use this chart to record all the fluid that goes into your child’s body and all the wee that comes out. It also includes some instructions on how to record your results. Using this chart will then give you a better idea on how much your child is actually weeing during the day. 

An overactive bladder is often not diagnosed until a child is around 5 or 6 years old, because this is the time when children are able to control their urine during the day. 

If you recognise in your child their urgency to wee during the day, then this is an important symptom to pick up.

If your child doesn’t directly tell you that they have the urge to wee, you can look out for physical signs, like squirming in their seat, dancing around or jumping from one foot to the other!

Other signs that they may be suffering from an overactive bladder is:

Having the urge to wee but nothing comes out

Frequent urinary tract infections
Accidents during the day
accident during day
So, what causes an overactive bladder?

There are several possible causes, depending on a child’s age. In younger children, around 4 or 5 years, it could be a change in routine, forgetting to use the toilet because they’re too busy, or if they’re suffering from an illness.

Other causes in children of all ages can be due to:

  • Anxiety
  • Drinking caffeinated or fizzy drinks
  • Constipation or urinary tract infections
  • Emotional upset
  • Not emptying their bladder completely when on the toilet
  • Even underlying sleep apnea.

If you suspect your child may have an overactive bladder, especially if they are 7 years or older, visit your GP. In most cases, an overactive bladder will go away with time. However, the symptoms can disrupt a child’s daily routines and can impact their social and emotional development, especially if they’re having to rush off to the toilet all the time and even worse, if they’re having accidents at school. 

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