Current Environment:

What is overactive bladder (OAB)?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a type of voiding dysfunction that results in the urge to urinate frequently and urgently. If your child has OAB, they may not make it to the bathroom in time to prevent an accident. This can lead to daytime wetting, bedwetting, or both. Overactive bladder is relatively common in children and can negatively affect self-esteem.

Overactive Bladder in Children | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) in children?

Signs that your child may have overactive bladder include:

  • frequent need to urinate
  • urgent need to urinate
  • daytime accidents, bedwetting, or both

What causes overactive bladder (OAB) in children?

Several different factors can cause overactive bladder in children. These include:

  • pollakiuria (frequent daytime urination — sometimes as often as every five to 10 minutes), which appears to be triggered by stress and anxiety
  • bladder spasms
  • constipation
  • small bladder capacity
  • anatomical abnormalities of the lower urinary tract and spine

Overactive Bladder in Children | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is overactive bladder (OAB) diagnosed?

If your child is toilet trained and is now having these symptoms, it's a good idea to set up a consultation with a pediatric urologist.

This can help ensure that there are no medical problems or structural issues that may be contributing to or causing overactive bladder. For this reason, a careful history of your child's complete voiding habits and bowel habits will be important.

Here are some additional tests that your doctor may recommend:

  • Urinalysis to check for UTI, diabetes, or abnormal kidney function
  • Renal bladder ultrasound. This imaging examination is used to determine the size and shape of your child's kidney and bladder, and to detect a mass, stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities.
  • Uroflow, a noninvasive study that evaluates bladder function

How is overactive bladder treated?

Many children with overactive bladder will have the problem resolve without treatment. At Boston Children’s Center for Healthy Elimination and Bladder Rehabilitation (CHEER), our goal is to offer a personalized diagnostic approach to your child, to rule out anatomical problems that may lead to OAB, help your child stay dry by offering treatment plans adapted to your child’s condition, and provide your family with support.

Treatment may include:

  • behavioral techniques
  • medication
  • pelvic floor therapy/biofeedback

Overactive Bladder in Children | Programs & Services