Wednesday 26 April 2017

Overactive bladder in children

When you first become a parent, it's really hard to know what it 'normal' and what isn't, now that I'm a mum of two I can tell that actually it was very noticeable that Oliver (now 7 years old) had a problem with urinating his entire life. But how was I to know especially when I questioned if something could be wrong and doctors told me it was fine. Normal in fact.  As a first time mum with no previous knowledge to fall back upon for what was right and what needed some help - I had no idea what to do. I think it got to a point when Oliver was in year 1 at school and so often coming out with wet clothes in a bag and a really sad face that I realised something was very wrong here. I almost wanted another mum to say oh it's fine it's normal my child does that too - they didn't. He was the only one.

Now that his little sister is potty trained, I've seen how different it is for most children to what it was like for Oliver. Isabelle is dry much earlier than Oliver is, she doesn't have accidents - maybe 4 maximum in the entire time we had been potty training her and she knows when she needs to go for a wee. She will get to the toilet on time and she doesn't need to be questioned that much if she needs a wee. All things Oliver seemed unable to do. I always, as well as others, put it down to him being a lazy boy. No. It wasn't because he was lazy, it was because when he told us he didn't know he needed a wee - he genuinely didn't know he needed a wee. I didn't believe him and I feel so guilty for the times I told him off - what do you do if you're on a day out with a 6 year old and they wet themselves in front of everyone?
Last year we finally got an answer as to why Oliver kept having wee accidents, for years I tried to get the doctor to listen, to refer Oliver to find out what was happening and why he needed at 6 years old to be woken up at night time and taken to the toilet for a wee or if we didn't he would wet the bed. Making sure he didn't have much to drink in the hours leading up to bedtime didn't make any difference either. It turns out that he has an overactive bladder.

Overactive bladder is a form of urinary incontinence - the involuntary release of urine. A child who has an overactive bladder will need to urinate more often than other children and sometimes it's urgent - they don't make it to the toilet because there body won't have given them time to get there. It's not that they don't care. It's that they don't know.

What I didn't really understand at first is why? Basically their bladder muscles have uncontrollable spasms. Muscles surrounding the tube which urine passes through from the bladder can be affected too - they are meant to stop the urine from being able to leave the body however the spasms means they don't do their job correctly.

In most cases children do outgrow overactive bladders, I think it's something like 15% less each year over the age of 5 years are affected but if the child doesn't outgrow it then their is medication they cant be put on - which is what Oliver has. Oxybutynin which works by relaxing the bladder muscles to stop urinary problems happening.

They can also do bladder training which is something I need to ask Oliver's consultant next time we see him. I'm surprised I haven't asked him already because Oliver has been on the tablets for a while now with no improvement, if his misses a tablet he will wet himself.

So if you're spotting something similar in your child - boy or girl, don't leave it! Believe them when they say they didn't know it was coming and take them to the doctors because there is a chance they really didn't know it was coming! Even something simple as a urine infection can cause this - although it wont stay like Oliver's.


  1. We are still going through this with my 9 year old. She has an overactive bladder.
    My girl has been on and off Oxybutynin for the last 5 years. We are waiting for yet another referral to the continence clinic....When she's on the tablets she's great without them accidents happen but the doctors say she can't take the tablets indefinitely. It's so frustrating.

    1. I am so sorry I have only just seen this comment!! :(

      Exactly the same with my little boy. He has a follow up appointment next month so will have to see if there is anything else. Does your daughter have a good consultant? Xx


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