Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction

Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction


Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction (BBD) refers to issues related to regular bowel movements and urination in children. These problems often coexist, as the bladder and bowel share the same set of nerves. It’s not uncommon for children with constipation to experience bladder dysfunction as well.


Why is BBD a Concern?

BBD poses several concerns that can impact your child’s health. Firstly, it increases the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Additionally, if your child has BBD, the treatment of vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition where urine flows back toward the kidneys, becomes more challenging. To support both parents and children in dealing with these issues, the Division of Pediatric Urology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has established the Healthy Elimination Learning Program (HELP).


Identifying BBD Symptoms:

BBD symptoms manifest in problems related to bowel and bladder function. Bowel issues often present as constipation, while bladder dysfunction may be evident through daytime wetting, frequent urination, and a sudden urge to rush to the bathroom.



To understand your child’s condition better, medical professionals may conduct investigations. These may include a thorough medical history, physical examination, and possibly imaging studies. Understanding your child’s symptoms and their medical history is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailoring an effective treatment plan.


Treatment Approaches for BBD:

For Constipation: Constipation can often be addressed with simple lifestyle changes. Ensure your child has a balanced diet with increased fluid intake and fiber consumption. Aim for two servings of fruit, two servings of vegetables, and two to four servings of bread or dry cereal each day. If dietary adjustments do not show improvement, your healthcare provider might recommend stool softeners or laxatives.


For Bladder Dysfunction: “Bladder training” is a valuable technique to encourage regular bathroom use at timed intervals. This helps regulate bladder function. Additionally, avoiding certain foods known as “the 5 Cs” can be beneficial. These include caffeine, chocolate, citrus, carbonation, and food colorings, which can irritate the bladder.


How to Follow Up:

Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider are essential to monitor your child’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. These appointments allow healthcare professionals to assess the effectiveness of dietary changes, medications, and other interventions. They also provide an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns or changes in your child’s symptoms.


Your Role as a Parent:

As a parent, your involvement is crucial in managing your child’s BBD. Pay close attention to their symptoms, follow the prescribed treatment plan diligently, and communicate openly with the healthcare team. Encourage your child to adhere to dietary recommendations and any prescribed medications. Creating a supportive environment at home positively influences your child’s overall well-being.


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