Childhood Incontinence: Signs and Causes

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, more than 1,000 children are treated there each year for incontinence. There are many types of incontinence that children can experience caused by different reasons. Some of the more common reasons why children wet themselves uncontrollably could be due to their own psychological choices, whereas others experience uncontrollable bladder contractions that make them feel as if they have to go to the bathroom immediately. Some children do not fully empty their bladder when going to the bathroom, leaving urine behind to leak.

It is very rare that a child would wet himself or herself out of laziness or poor toilet training. Some children could be acting out due to emotional situations at home or at day care.

Types of Incontinence

  • Urge Incontinence is characterized by frequent and urgent trips to the bathroom. Children experiencing urge incontinence typically hold their urine by crossing their legs, squatting or dancing to prevent leakage. This should not be confused by ones desire not to be potty trained.
  • Giggle Incontinence can be described exactly how it sounds; this form of incontinence only happens when one wets him or herself due to laughing too much. Once the child begins to urinate they are unable to stop the flow of urine and usually soak their clothes.
  • Dysfunctional Voiding is when children tighten their pelvic floor muscle and possibly cut off the urine stream before completely emptying their bladder. This could lead to leaving a large amount of urine in their bladder that could leak.
  • Underactive bladder happens in children when they tend to postpone going to the bathroom and only empty their bladder a few times a day with little urge to do so.

Treating Urinary Incontinence

Treatment and management of childhood incontinence is going to be different with each child. It helps to first understand why your child is wetting itself and then work on a treatment plan that will work for the whole family. Some tips to try are:

  • Set up a regular schedule for your child to urinate. This could be scheduled every two to three hours
  • Decreasing the amount of liquids your child takes in without causing dehydration
  • Avoid letting your child have caffeinated drinks, carbonated and citrusy juices-these will all lead to more frequent urination
  • Biofeedback training as a way to teach your child how to relax their muscles so they can fully empty their bladder
  • Behavior Modification can provide your child with the proper education on how the body works and how to manage around the toilet properly

Whatever the cause or treatment, don’t ignore your children’s incontinence. This will only lead to embarrassment later on in life and it will also become difficult to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle.



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