In children 3-12 years of age, having less than one bowel movement a day may be considered constipation. If a child has hard, large, or painful bowel movements then most agree this is constipation. Constipation usually results from a diet low in fiber, not drinking enough liquids, and holding (tightening the sphincter muscles).
Children with constipation are more likely to be bedwetters. Others claim constipation causes bedwetting because the large and usually hard stool compresses against the bladder causing pressure and bladder emptying. If this happens while the child is asleep, then bedwetting may occur. This explanation may be true, but constipated children with huge stool in the rectum (lower bowel) do not always wet at night. Furthermore, the bladder is very pliable and the stool is not usually big enough to cause the bladder to empty.
Children with abnormal daytime potty habits (holding) are usually constipated, and their bladders do not always empty. Their bladder may become thick and “trigger-happy” because it wants to override the child’s habit of holding. A thick and trigger happy bladder that is not allowed to completely empty at bedtime will more likely empty while the child is asleep and unable to hold.
Dr. Smith is board certified and he has authored or co-authored many articles, papers, chapters, and books in Urology and Pediatric Urology. His research has been presented throughout the world. Dr. Smith’s dedication to helping children with urologic problems inspired him to establish PottyMD.