Is your child urgently running to the bathroom and having urinary accidents? Is your child experiencing urinary tract infections (UTIs) or pain with urination? Urinary problems and UTIs occur in many children and can affect family, social and school life. In many cases, your child’s pediatrician can perform a simple urine test to see whether simple treatments, like antibiotics, can resolve the problem. If treatment doesn’t resolve the issue, though, your child’s urinary problem may be caused by something most parents wouldn’t suspect: trouble with “number two.”
Constipation or incomplete bowel emptying is a very common contributor to urinary problems. The bladder and bowel are controlled by the same nerves and are next to each other in the body.
How to Know if Constipation is Causing Your Child’s Urinary Troubles
Parents are not always aware of children’s bowel habits after they become toilet-trained. First, try asking your child whether they have any of the following symptoms of constipation:
Infrequent stools (less than 6 per week)
Painful stools or straining
Large bowel movements
Constipation is often treated with laxatives and stool softeners, though results can sometimes be maintained on a high fiber diet. There are some things you can safely try at home, after consulting your child’s doctor, to address constipation as a possible cause of urinary issues. A large number of patients will experience urinary symptom relief after starting a bowel regimen.
Tips for preventing constipation:
Start a high fiber diet (eat lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and limit processed foods and excessive dairy)
Have a “sitting schedule” after meal-times — ensure your child’s feet are either touching the floor or on a stool, which helps relax the sphincter muscle
Ensure your child is drinking plenty of water
Resolving Urinary Problems with Bowel Treatments
It is important to discuss your child’s symptoms with your primary care provider. When appropriate, you may be referred to a pediatric urology or gastroenterology specialist. Your child will have an evaluation to best determine the cause of their urological problems. Some children may require bladder management with medications and other therapies in addition to bowl management for complex cases.
Kelly N. Day, CPNP-PC is a member of the Section of Pediatric Urology at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She is a full-time pediatric nurse practitioner who sees patients with a variety of urological disorders. She has special interest in care coordination and management before and after birth for fetal patients and their families who have kidney or bladder abnormalities detected during prenatal imaging.
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