Bedwetting and Constipation – Is There a Connection?
If you were to ask an adult what the symptoms of constipation are, they’d probably tell you that constipation is passing hard, sometimes painful, lumpy stool inconsistently. These symptoms are the same for children, but unfortunately, kids often lack the necessary verbal skills to tell you that something is blocking the pipe.
(Pixabay / Deedee86)
For children, you probably have to pay close attention to their behaviors and their diapers to come to any conclusion regarding constipation. The symptoms you see might include:
- Trying to poop often without any success
- Hard, small or lumpy pieces of poop in the diaper
- Complaints of tummy aches
Constipation in kids is fairly common and usually resolves on its own given enough time. The tricky part is that constipation occurs from behaviors that come from being normal kids – not drinking enough water, not wanting to eat their veggies or fruits, and preferring white bread to whole wheat. Picky eaters in particular may have trouble getting the constipation-prevention nutrition that their body needs to pass stools painlessly and regularly.
To add insult to injury, the more compact the stool becomes in the body, the more painful it becomes, and the more painful it becomes, the less the child will want to pass it – it’s a vicious cycle.
What does constipation have to do with bedwetting?
Since the mid-1980s, medical professionals have generally acknowledged that constipation had something to do with bedwetting, but it wasn’t until a 2012 study published in the medical journal Urology, that researchers produced startling data regarding the correlation between the two.
In the study, they interviewed 30 known bedwetters and noted any reported symptoms of constipation. They then X-rayed the children’s abdomens to specifically look for stool lodged in the bowels, and they found some astounding results. The X-rays showed that every kid in the study showed evidence of having too much poop lodged in their bowel, and 80% of the kids were classified as constipated – even though only 10% had expressed any symptoms of constipation in the interview process.
Another truly impressive result: after three months of constipation treatment, over 80% of the kids didn’t wet the bed at night anymore.
Researchers have continued to study the correlation. This article found that constipated children were almost seven times more likely to have Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction (LUTD) than children without constipation.
It appears that clogged bowels put excess pressure on the bladder, which can cause several results:
- Making a child feel he has to go when he doesn’t
- The child can’t completely empty his bladder
- The bladder can’t fill all the way because it’s too compressed – causing accidents, especially at night
How do I know if my kid is constipated?
Isn’t that the question of the hour? The tricky thing about the studies mentioned above is that the kids didn’t necessarily display or recognize any of the “classic” constipation symptoms. Some kids may even have regular bowel movements even though they’re technically constipated. In those instances, the bowel is so blocked by hard poop that softer poop will squeeze around the mass and come out regularly and without difficulty. If that’s not the definition of stealth, what is?
If you suspect that your child might be constipated, you can start by safely modifying their diet so that they get plenty of water and fiber-rich foods. Fruits and veggies with the skins on, leafy greens, lentils, bran, chia seeds, flax seeds, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal are all excellent things to increase in your child’s diet.
You should also be sure that your child is drinking plenty of water, but try to stay away from juices and soft drinks as these often have a lot of sugar. Small sips of apple or prune juice can help with constipation as well as applesauce, pear sauce, and kefir.
Making a fruit and yogurt parfait in the morning or as a snack is a great way to incorporate probiotic-dense yogurt, whole grains, and fiber-rich fruits. Of course, before you make any radical changes to your child’s diet and nutrition, be sure to talk to your pediatrician.
X-Ray or Ultrasound
Another way to check for constipation is for your child’s pediatrician to order a special abdominal X-ray or ultrasound. These procedures are non-invasive, but they show constipation that isn’t manifesting any other way. If there is a large blockage, your child’s pediatrician may suggest a constipation medicine to help clear out the mass, but you should only go this route under a doctor’s close supervision.
Researchers are still looking into the significance of constipation and bedwetting, but what they’ve put out so far suggests that there is a strong connection. If you are concerned or suspect constipation may be the cause of your child’s bedwetting, talk to your child’s pediatrician to develop a plan of action.
If your child is a bedwetter, Peejamas work as an alternative to overnight cloth diapers. They are soft and stylish kids pajamas that absorb urine so the sheets don’t get wet, but they still leave enough of a wet sensation that your child will be triggered to get up and use the bathroom. Plus, they hold up for more than 300 washes. As you troubleshoot issues, such as constipation, that may be contributing to your child’s bedwetting, Peejamas are a great ally in helping your kids learn to stay dry at night.