What is an Overactive Bladder?

What is an Overactive Bladder?

Overactive Bladder
When your child always needs to go to the toilet, even if they have just been…

What is an overactive bladder (OAB)? An overactive bladder occurs when the bladder has problems storing urine due to the muscle being irritable or weak, or due to faulty signaling from the brain. Sometimes people call this a weak bladder, but it is more of an irritable bladder that tells your child to go to the toilet more than they actually need to, and they experience a bigger urge sensation than normal.

Children with overactive bladders suddenly need to go and can’t wait. They feel like they are busting and may wet their pants on the way to the toilet, even when the bladder is not completely full. You may also notice your child having to use the bathroom frequently.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Accidents/soiling during the day – after toilet training
  • School/kinder aged children – coming home with wet undies, and they are unaware that they have leaked
  • Persistent bed wetting
  • Frustration and anxiety around using the toilet.

Cause of an Overactive Bladder:

  • Faulty signaling between the bladder and brain
  • Incomplete emptying when urinating
  • Poor relaxation of the abdomen and pelvic floor muscles
  • Going frequently to the toilet “just in case” – parents often use this to be cautious, however this trains the bladder to go when it isn’t time and can worsen the problem
  • Constipation
  • Changes to environmental factors, such as moving to a new house or changing schools
  • Emotional factors, such as sudden stress and anxiety
  • Consuming drinks high in caffeine – caffeine can stimulate the bladder
  • Recovering from illness.

What can you do to help?

The good news is, overactive bladders in children can usually be managed with in-home techniques with guidance from a health professional. That is where we come in…

If you notice your child showing symptoms that may be related to OAB, meeting with a continence Physiotherapist is a good place to start.

A Physiotherapist will asses your child, and discuss with you;

  • Their diet and fluid intake
  • Their toilet habits or ‘bladder diary’
  • They will look at how their muscles function with use of a real-time ultrasound machine – performed externally (on the tummy with some gel).

From here, a Physiotherapist will provide education and techniques you can use with your child moving forward. Such as;

  • Keeping a bladder diary - this helps you identify when OAB may be worse for your child, which we can then link to potential factors. We provide this during your consultation.
  • Correct emptying techniques
  • Pelvic floor and abdomen relaxation
  • Establishing a routine around toilet time, in-home and at school.

Our continence Physiotherapists also work with kinder and primary school teachers to help them further understand child continence issues, and how to manage it at school.

Need further information? We offer assistance, support and education through our Children’s Continence Clinic. One of our continence Physiotherapists can help you gain a better understanding of your child’s toilet habits, and help you work towards optimum bladder and bowel function. For more information, or to book an appointment, please visit our website or call our rooms on (03) 9822 4999 or (03) 9486 0512.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will be discussing child continence relating to bowel function and constipation.

Julienne Moore
Associate Physiotherapist - Fitwise Physiotherapy
APA Titled Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

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