Overactive bladder in children: causes and treatment

Overactive bladder in children is a syndrome that causes an urgent need to urinate. In these cases the need is such that it can even be difficult to control; causing the involuntary loss of urine.

Although this condition occurs in both adults and childrenin this article we explain what overactive bladder in children is, its causes, how it is diagnosed and what its treatment is.

Overactive bladder in children

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a syndrome that presents as urinary urgency, i.e. an urgent need to urinate. It is normal for it to be accompanied by an increase in frequency. Furthermore, it is the second most frequent cause of bladder dysfunction in children after enuresis.

The intensity of the impulse is such that, in some cases, it is impossible to control it. Therefore, the child may leak urine; cause serious problems in the child’s life and have a negative impact on his social or emotional life.

Indeed, if urine leakage occurs due to the inability to control the urgency of urination, the child may begin to avoid or refuse to participate in various activities out of fear of getting lost. For this reason it is important to pay attention to the symptoms and consult a specialist as soon as possible.


First the Spanish Association of Urology (AEU) establishes that overactive bladder should not be confused with other conditions such as enuresis (leaking urine only at night); given that The PHONEBOOK can occur at any time of the day.

child who wet the bed: overactive bladder in children
Unlike enuresis, this incontinence occurs at any time of the day.

In general, experience the following signs or symptoms:

  • Urination frequency of more than 8 times a day.
  • Difficulty controlling the urge to urinate.
  • Possible urine leakage.
  • Retention maneuvers, such as sitting cross-legged or adopting other postures to try to avoid loss.
  • In extreme cases, urinary incontinence.
  • The symptoms cause distress or affect the child’s normal life.

Causes of overactive bladder

Current theory points to it OAB may be related to delayed maturation of the central nervous system. Thus, when the bladder fills up, the inhibitory micturition reflex would not be triggered efficiently.

This problem could also be in relation to the physical condition of the child: urinary tract abnormalities, bladder or kidney infections and lack of maturation of the central nervous system. However, it would also be related to other conditions such as constipation.

In some cases, It is because the child has not learned how to control urination correctly (process that usually begins at 3-5 years). I mean, the little one hasn’t learned to control his sphincters.

Similarly, conditions such as mental, behavioral, learning, or anxiety disorders, among others, can have the appearance of an overactive bladder among their symptoms.


To establish a correct diagnosis of OAB, your doctor will perform the following tests and exams:

  • full story. Both the parents and the child should detail the urination habits. In fact, you will be asked to keep a “urination diary” for a few days in which to check the frequency and intensity of urination. Also, the doctor will look into the history for possible triggering problems.
  • Physical exploration. This exploration will be carried out both in the area of ​​the urinary system and through tests to verify the functioning of the nervous system.
  • Urine analysis. In this way it will be possible to establish if there are infections.
  • Based on the evidence from the above tests, your doctor may also recommend performing a ultrasound or other urodynamic studies to rule out major problems.


Treatment of OAB in children will depend of its causes. So, for example, if it’s caused by constipation (stool pressing on the bladder), treatment will aim to resolve the constipation.

In any case, the most widespread forms of treatment, as clearly explained by the art Dr. TO. Alcantara Monterò, I am:

  • Bladder training. It includes scheduling urination (every x hours), urinating twice when going to the toilet, or relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, among others.
  • In some cases, your doctor may recommend a Pharmacotherapy (oxybutynin). In this way the symptoms will be relieved until the child learns to effectively control his sphincters. Also, urinary tract infections could be prevented.
  • Parental support. Parents should not scold the little one; since it is not something voluntary. On the contrary, the child must have your understanding and support. In this sense, a motivational therapy could even be established, stimulating the child with rewards if he successfully follows the program.

Watch for signs of an overactive bladder in children

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of overactive bladder; from this problem it is capable of generating a negative effect on the child’s social, academic or emotional healthdeteriorating their self-esteem.

For this reason, It is important to see a doctor if you notice any symptoms or signs related to this syndrome. This way, you can first rule out physical problems and then start treatment to resolve them.

Child hugging his mother
OAB can affect a child’s social and emotional life, so you must be fully supportive.

In any case, as indicated by art Pediatric Association, parental support is needed. For this reason, we insist that constant visits to the bathroom or urine leakage should not be a reason to scold the little one. On the contrary, you must count on calmness, serenity and understanding.

The post Overactive Bladder in Children: Causes and Treatment first appeared in research-school.



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