Bladders often misbehave in childhood. Almost all are functional problems, meaning that everything is in the right place and ought to be able to work properly. Most can be sorted by really working on the 4 steps to a healthy bladder.
How does the bladder work?
When we have a drink, the fluid makes its way through our guts and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Blood is pumped round the body by the heart.
As it flows through the kidneys, it is filtered to remove all the waste liquid.
The waste liquid – urine, or wee – drains down long, thin tubes called ureters and into the bladder.
- The bladder stores the wee. It has two sets of muscles:
- The bladder itself is like a balloon made of stretchy-squeezy muscles. They have to relax to allow the bladder to fill with wee.
- Holding on muscles at the base of the bladder contract to hold all the wee in.
- When the bladder is full, the stretchy muscles send a message to the brain saying that we need a wee.
- The brain responds with a message telling the two sets of muscles what to do: the holding on ones to relax and open, and the others to squeeze and keep squeezing until the bladder is empty. OR, if it’s not convenient to empty straight away, the brain sends a message telling the muscles to wait.
4 Steps to a healthy bladder
A healthy bladder stores wee at low pressure and empties between 4 - 7 times a day in school aged children and more frequently in younger children.
Step 1. The first thing to check out is the bowel!
A poo traffic jam would mean that the space where the bladder needs to expand and fill is occupied by the full bowel. Poo traffic jams – also known as constipation – are really common in children.
So, if the bladder is not behaving properly, always suspect poo might be the culprit!