Managing Bowel and Bladder Symptoms in Children with Spina Bifida

Children with Spina Bifida can face a variety of bladder and bowel issues, including difficulties in emptying their bladders or bowels, incontinence, and constipation. Read on to learn more about the different types of issues they may face, as well as tips and tricks to help manage the symptoms.

Understand the Types of Bladder and Bowel Problems.

It’s important to understand the different types of urinary and bowel problems that a child with spina bifida may face. Common issues include difficulty in emptying the bladder, difficulty in emptying the bowels, incontinence, and constipation. Knowing the type of problem can help you identify how to best manage it. Additionally, understanding which nerves are affected can often give insight as to why these symptoms are occurring. Identifying which nerves are involved is an important first step when trying to address bladder or bowel issues in a child with Spina Bifida.

Investigate Possible Causes of the Symptoms.

Before seeking treatment, it’s important to first figure out what is causing the bladder or bowel issues. Potential causes include physical and anatomical abnormalities, infection, medication side effects, stress and anxiety, dietary changes, or overuse of laxatives. It is important to do your research and identify all potential causes before beginning any kind of treatment plan. If a cause can be identified, the issue may be much easier to address.

Develop a Treatment Plan with Your Child’s Doctor.

Working together with your child’s doctor, it is important to develop a treatment plan that takes into consideration the individual needs of your child. Be sure to discuss all the medical and lifestyle options available – from medications and dietary changes to exercise, physical therapy, and even bladder retraining. All of these can help reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of bowel or bladder issues for children with Spina Bifida.

Consider Incorporating Medical Devices for Assistance, if Necessary.

Depending on the severity and nature of your child’s bladder or bowel issues, certain devices may be recommended to make managing those symptoms easier. This could include items such as ostomy pouches, catheters, or antispasmodic medications. Be sure to consult with your child’s doctor to find out which options are most suitable for them.

Monitor Progress and Make Adjustments, as Needed.

Establish a system with your child’s doctor that allows you to monitor and track their bladder and bowel symptoms. That way, if any worrisome changes arise, you will be able to take the necessary steps right away. This may include adjusting your child’s medications or treatments, as well as consulting their doctor for further advice.


Additional resources to read

Spina Bifida And Incontinence - Bladder & Bowel Community (

Spina bifida - Symptoms - NHS (

Bowel Function and Care Guideline - Spina Bifida Association

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