Language is a great unifier. This is especially true when it comes to facing and ultimately dealing with certain uncomfortable truths in life – say your child’s bedwetting, or bladder and bowel issues.
Starting the dialog, helped by learning the basic language related to these issues, is often the first step toward solving these childhood difficulties. Simply knowing so many of these issues have names, are common and, in many cases, are relatively normal can go a long way toward improving the outlook of both the child and his/her parents.
You indeed are not alone, after all. Up to 20 percent of all pediatrician visits are for incontinence issues, and an estimated 5 to 7 million children in the U.S. deal with bed-wetting, says estimates by the National Sleep Foundation and the Children’s Hospital of Boston.
For our first language lesson, here are some of the more common diagnoses related to child bladder and bowel problems:
This is simply the clinical way of describing bedwetting, or the bladder leaking while the child sleeps. Also known as nocturnal incontinence, it can occur when your child is in a deep sleep and his or her bladder sensations aren’t strong enough to wake them. Nocturnal enuresis can be caused by acidic or carbonated drinks, constipation, an incomplete emptying of the bladder, and weak pelvic floor muscles.
You guessed it – this describes bladder leaking, or “accidents,” that occur when your child is awake. Also known as daytime incontinence, daytime enuresis can simply be a part of growing up (the child gets distracted when playing, for instance), or it could be a symptom of something else such as diet, troublesome potty habits, constipation, etc.
Referred to as “bladder instability” once upon a time, the symptoms of an overactive bladder include your child urinating at a high frequency (more than eight times a day), strong bladder urgency (suddenly having to go but not getting to the bathroom in time), and of course occasional accidents and leaking. Like other bladder/bowel issues, overactive bladders can be the result of a poor diet, problematic potty habits, constipation, and pelvic floor muscle weakness.
If your child is experiencing issues like these, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help. These specialized physical therapists are trained to work with children on bladder awareness, good bathroom habits, improve dietary habits, and exercises that can strengthen his or her pelvic floor – all to reduce and resolve issues related to leaking and “accidents.”