According to the NHS an estimated 900,000, 5-19 year olds suffer from bladder and bowel conditions such as bedwetting, daytime wetting, constipation and soiling. That is approximately 1 in 12 children.
So what is the main cause of these problems:
Constipation is often the main culprit!!
Because the rectum can stretch and stretch and stretch, it then just holds the poo and often a child who is constipated will have a completely normal looking stomach.
Many children who are constipated poo daily but they are not completely emptying the rectum so they start to get a build up of poo in the rectum.
As the poo piles up in the rectum, it squishes and irritates the bladder causing leaking:
- Bedwetting: the bladder gets squeezed and as a result cannot hold enough urine overnight
- Daytime wetting: the bladder which is irritated spasms causing leaking without warning
- Poop accidents: as the rectum gets stretched because of the constipation it loses sensation and tone and poop can then leak out of the child’s bottom, often without any warning or sensation.
So what can we do to help:
- Fluid is so important – make sure your child is drinking enough during the day and not just drinking when they get home from school. On average 5-8 year old should be drinking about 1 litre a day, 9-12 year olds should be drinking about 1.5 litres and 13+ should be drinking 2 litres. But every child is different and these amounts can also depend on activity levels.
- Fibre is also really important as this will help to move the poo through the large intestine quickly. These are the recommended amounts of fibre our children should be eating every day. 2-5 year olds 15 g per day, 5-11 year olds 20 g per day, 11-16 year olds 25g per day and 17 and over 30 g per day
- Toileting positions are also so important – we need to get our children to put their feet up on a stool so their knees are higher than their hips. Then we want hands onto our thighs and a nice relaxed belly. No gripping or holding our breathe.
- Then making sure when they are sitting on the toilet they are not pushing or straining or holding their breathe. If they are straining it can be painful but it also means that the pelvic floor muscle is not relaxing properly.
It can take time to change drinking, eating and toileting behaviours. It is so important to give your child time to make the changes and take them on board and also to try and persevere with changes. If you are struggling I treat children who are suffering with constipation and urinary incontinence problems so make an appointment and I can give you some help.