Dysfunctional Bladder

What is dysfunctional bladder?

Bladder dysfunction refers to problems with urination. This may include urgency of urination, frequency of urination, ability to “hold” urine during the day or night, urinary incontinence, infrequent voiding (not urinating often), constipation or other diagnoses. Prior to seeing a member of the CHOC Urology Center staff, a child with concerns of a possibly dysfunctional bladder should complete a voiding diary that should be brought to the first appointment.

What causes a dysfunctional bladder?

Dysfunctional bladders can be caused by many factors. Some children will have a dysfunctional bladder due to behavioral habits while others may have a nerve or mechanical reasoning. Poor water intake and constipation will often complicate the diagnosis and treatment of a dysfunctional bladder.

How is bladder and bowel dysfunction managed?

Depending on the nature of the problem and the child’s symptoms, our specialists will work to create a plan of action to help alleviate the bladder dysfunction. Surgery is rarely needed for children with bladder dysfunction. Common treatments include:

  • Increasing water intake
    Poor water intake can damage a bladder and cause urgency, frequency, daytime incontinence, urinary tract infections or dysuria. Increasing water intake allows the bladder to heal.
    Learn how much water children should drink.
  • Curing constipation
    Constipation often complicates dysfunctional voiding. The bowels can become full of stool and apply pressure internally onto the bladder, which causes the bladder to act ineffectively.
    Learn more about managing constipation.
  • Changing diet
    Restricting fluids at times can help manage overactive bladder or urinary incontinence. Avoiding bladder irritants may also help to reduce symptoms.
  • Medications
    Prescription medications are sometimes used to help the bladder muscle relax.
  • Training
    Programs, like biofeedback, that teach the bladder to relax and contract as it should to produce a normal void may be recommended for some patients. Some children will also use timed voiding programs to help control their bladder. This often consists of a child sitting on the toilet at specific intervals.