Nearly ten million children nationwide are affected by pediatric incontinence. Incontinence can be described as urinary urgency, frequency, dampness in the underwear and accidents during the day.
Pediatric Urology at the American Family Children's Hospital has a unique program that uses an innovative treatment program to help children that experience daytime wetting. Believe it or not, there are some simple steps you can implement today to help improve your child's incontinent symptoms.
Many parents think that if their child is having these types of accidents that they need to decrease fluid intake. This is actually the opposite of what you want to happen because decreasing fluids does not improve accidents and children need adequate fluid intake to keep their kidneys healthy. Children should be drinking between six to eight eight-ounce servings of fluids per day and at least half of that fluid should be water. It is important to remember to avoid drinks with caffeine, carbonation (bubbles), citrus and chocolate because they may irritate your child's bladder and cause more wetting accidents.
Timed voiding and relaxation
Developing regular bathroom habits like having your child go to the bathroom when they wake up in the morning and developing a routine to have them go to the bathroom every two hours during the day can prevent accidents. We suggest having watches with beepers or timers to help your child to remember to use the bathroom. Relaxation is also a key component when children go the bathroom. Making sure your child relaxes and is not rushed while using the bathroom will help the bladder fully empty. You can use a foot stool to keep your child's feet flat and relax while they are using the bathroom. This is especially important in girls for hygiene and to ensure a steady stream of urine to empty the bladder completely. Girls should sit on the toilet with the legs wide open, place elbows on the knees and keep their feet on the foot stool.
Practicing good hygiene is an essential for children with incontinent symptoms. Simple things like avoiding bubble baths, soaps with dyes or perfume, wearing cotton underwear and wiping from front to back after a bowel movement may seem unrelated but can add extra irritation or may cause infection in children. In addition, if your child has accidents it important for your child to change out of their wet clothes as soon as possible, you can do this by sending an extra pair of clothing to school in case of wetting accidents.
Create regular bowel habits
You may not think that bowel habits impact incontinent symptoms. However, our bowels are located behind the bladder so if stool backs up it pushes against the bladder, which irritates the bladder and can cause urinary symptoms. So it is important for children to have regular bowel habits. Ideally, children should have long, soft and easy to pass stool daily. There are various ways you can achieve this including: fiber, fluids and daily activity.
Fiber: Fiber is what is left after the plant food we eat has passed through the digestive tract and is either soluble or insoluble. Fiber and water work as a team to relieve constipation and create regular bowel habits. The goal is to eat 18 grams of fiber every day. Examples of good fiber include whole grain bread and cereal, wheat and rice bran, dried peas and beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts. You may also want to talk to your provider about giving your child a fiber supplement if your child continues to have trouble having daily, soft bowel movements. And, consider talking with your provider about a stool softener.
Fluids: As mentioned earlier, approximately 64-ounces of fluids daily is important and can help children maintain regular bowel habits.
Daily activity: A lack of exercise can contribute to constipation. Encouraging your child get more activity on a daily basis can help create a normal bowel movement and is good for his or her overall health.
As you can see these are simple tips you can start today to help improve your child's incontinence symptoms. If your child continues to experience urinary incontinence symptoms after following these simple steps for several months, talk to your primary care physician and ask to be referred to a pediatric urology provider and we would be happy do discuss and evaluate your child's symptoms. You can call and schedule that appointment at (608) 263-6420.