23 answers

Daughter Feels Constant Urge to Pee - Doesn't Have a Bladder Infection

My 4 yr. old daughter has been experiencing a constant urge to pee. It began last Friday, I expect due to mild constipation, which I believe was brought on from consuming cheese (she normally is dairy-free). My daughter has been experiencing constant drips in her underwear, along with the urgency. She is constantly running to the toilet, sometimes immediately after leaving the bathroom. She has sat on the toilet up to 20 times an hour! The pediatrician tested her urine - she does not have an infection. She also suggested that the urgency my daughter is feeling is being caused by her bowels pushing on her bladder/urethra. She recommended sitz baths with baking soda, drinking more fluids, for my daughter to push hard once to try to void the urine before getting off the toilet, and to give my daughter the positive message that this problem will get fixed. We have been doing all these things, plus I have given her a few doses of Mirilax to help insure that she is not backed up (her most recent bowel movements seemed quite normal.) I've also been giving her jello and popsicles and grapes and other watery fruit to increase her fluid intake - she hasn't been thrilled about drinking since she equates that to more peeing... I just wandered if anyone else has gone through this or has suggestions. I hate seeing her in such agony. I will be calling her pediatrician back, because I don't think she understood the full severity of this. We can't leave the house. She's missing school and outings. And she's miserable.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your responses - I really appreciated it. The problem hasn't been solved yet. It's been 6 weeks. My daughter had some lab work done on friday - to check her kidney function. The tests came back normal. So we have an appointment with the Urology Clinic at Children's, but it isn't until September 1! Our first appointment is a "bladder seminar" with 40 - 60 other families. They are going to discuss allergies and other possible irritants, as well as bladder health and correcting behavioral issues. If after the seminar, we don't manage to fix the problem ourselves, then they will give us a private appointment. I think the pediatrician thinks her problem is behavioral. I really don't know what to think. Unfortunately, the doctors haven't given me any instruction on how to handle her in the meantime. I'd hate to make the situation worse by reinforcing the wrong behaviors. Most of the information I've found has to do with kids who never want to visit the bathroom, not ones that are trying to go to the toilet every 10 - 40 minutes. It seems scheduling potty visits would be easier if she was just to busy playing to go, but telling my child who is feeling an extremely urgent need to pee to ignore it, is very difficult. If anyone has dealt with correcting frequent urination (as a behavioral problem) I'd love to know what you did! Thanks again!

*******UPDATE 3/12/2011********

The good news is, the problem finally went away! But it took a long time. I went to a Bladder Seminar at our Children's Hospital and then had a follow up with a specialist. Here are the most useful thing that I took away from talking to the specialists: when your daughter sits on the toilet have her put her feet on a stool and have her lean forward and rest on her arms. She needs to be relaxed - legs shouldn't be dangling or straining to reach the foot stool. This eliminates some of the dripping problem. Drips (especially big ones) can be caused by pee getting pushed into the vagina, rather then streaming into the toilet. This happens especially if your daughter is not peeing with relaxed bladder muscles, but rather forcing the pee out through an unrelaxed urethra. So the foot stool and the positioning help assure that muscles are relaxed and the pee flows down, rather than into the vagina. This is called vaginal voiding, when it gets pocketed into the vagina and doesn't come out until after the child stands up.

After I made my original post, I decided to take my daughter off of wheat, because despite using Miralax we were still having problems with constipation off and on, and my daughter was always very bloated. She also had an itchy rash always on the backs of her knees. So I took her off gluten, within a few weeks her constipation problems disappeared and the rash was gone too. I was so relieved at that, but the peeing issue persisted. So, I took her to have some IgG and IgE food allergy testing. This was done with a blood test, it's validity is still questioned by some, but I was desperate for clues. It will only show allergies to foods that are currently in your diet, so I wished I'd done it before I took her off wheat. But the disappearance of the rash and constipation was enough of an answer for me regarding wheat. She was also not consuming dairy at the time, as I had suspected that that was the cause of the constipation she had suffered from since she was a toddler. The test results showed an allergy to soy, which was what I had been feeding her in place of dairy, so then I switched her to almond milk. But this didn't really solve our problem either.

So, the other thing the Bladder clinic doctor recommended, was to make sure our daughter consumed enough liquid every day, because she was never voiding much. This was to try to give her a sense of what a full bladder feels like and to just get things more in sync. She did suggest that her bladder may just be growing at a slower rate than the rest of her and it needed time to catch up. Also, being that she is hypersensitive, she may be more aware of sensations in general. She prescribed a bladder muscle relaxer medication (sorry I don't remember the name of the drug - I just remembered that she'd been on this after seeing one of the commenters below). We didn't notice any real improvement with this drug and discontinued using it after a few months. Also, she said to give my daughter an adult dose of Miralax everyday - two doses if needed, to "clean her out."

I was not happy with any of these explanations. The foot stool did help the drip problem, though most of kindergarten, my daughter wore a panty liner to school because it made her feel better. Also we kept a foot stool for her in the school bathroom. She went from sitting on the toilet 15 - 30 times an hour, to once every half hour or so, which was still far too disruptive at school, so I went to her pediatrician.

The pediatrician ordered x-rays of her gut. She wanted to make sure that she didn't have a tethered spinal cord (i think that was what she called it, it was a while ago) , which could lead to constipation and also she wanted to look at her intestines. What they found was that she had an excessive amount of gas. This wasn't really news to me, she was always very bloated, and found waistbands very uncomfortable much of the time. What did the pediatrician recommend? Miralax. The bladder doctor was very pushy about this to. But my daughter had been using this stuff for a few years now, and I had been giving her less and less since I took her off wheat. I wanted her off of it completely. I didn't feel good about the stuff.

So that's when I did some research on my own. On Miralax. And found people linking it to frequent urination problems! And extreme bloating. I joined a yahoo group called Miralax,so I could read more about people's negative experiences with the drug and what they used in place of it.
After reading all the horror stories, I took my daughter off of it immediately. The bloating rapidly went away. The peeing problem vanished - maybe because there wasn't all that gas pressure on her bladder, and perhaps the chemicals in the medication had also been also irritating her bladder. My daughter is still off of wheat/gluten. It's not so hard to accommodate, especially if there are no other dietary restrictions. I've reintroduced dairy (though she won't drink regular milk now, because it tastes funny to her.) And she hasn't had any constipation problems at all. If you are considering a gluten-free diet for your child, I can recommend a few staples and brands that seem to know what they are doing.


I want to clear up a few things, so this might be more helpful to people who stumble upon the question later. It may help them determine whether these solutions are the right thing to try.
Ultimately I believe that Mirilax was the root cause of the bladder issues - my daughter had been suffering from incredible bloat - she looked 9 months pregnant almost all the time. She was otherwise skinny. She did not like waistbands at all and would wear her pants very low due to discomfort. It wasn't until she went off Mirilax that she "deflated." And the problem went away as the bloating went away. Our daughter also had this life long rash on the back of her legs, with the elimination of wheat it went away. If she ingests wheat it returns very quickly. They are very itchy bumps. We did DNA testing with 23 And Me, and she tested positive for a gene that they believe occurs more often in Celiacs. This was from their (new) research, and differs from the gene test doctors traditionally perform.

Featured Answers

OMG! Please email me! I am having the EXACT same problem with my 4 year old daughter! We have been on a roller coaster ride of frustration since January this year!!! I have some suggestions that my doctor and I went through also...I posted a request about this a few months ago...email me and I will send you the information!

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I agree with the advice to call the doctor again (or a different one). I just heard about the effects of some bubble baths from a friend. Does your daughter take bubble baths? A friend just took her daughter to the doctor with a complaint that the little girl felt like she needed to pee all the time, and the doctor said, "she takes bubble baths every night, right?" And yes she did. So now she's taking baking soda baths to help. Good luck to you and your daughter!

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Did the doctor culture the urine, or just look at the dipstick results? When they test for a UTI they are primarily looking for red and white blood cells and nitrates (a chemical created by some bacteria). The dipstick can give false negative results for several reasons, some white blood cells are not detected as well (mononuclear cells to be specific), the red blood cells might not be in a large enough quantity, and the nitrates can be negative if the urine hasn't been in the bladder for at least several hours. Not everyone has all three of these when they have an infection, some have one or two or none. Generally, if the dipstick results are negative the lab tech doesn't look at the urine under the microscope and it doesn't get cultured. I would suggest calling your pediatrician again and tell him/her that the symptoms are still a major problem. Ask the doc to order a culture of her urine regardless of the dipstick results. Also, make absolutely sure your daughter follows the collection directions for a "clean catch" specimen. Failure to do so can allow too many different kinds of bacteria to grow and one of the criteria for defining a UTI is that there needs to be one or maybe two predominant organisms. Then, if the culture comes back negative then I agree with the other posts that you should get a referral to a urologist.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

She needs to see a pediatric urologist. My daughter is 10, has suffered with exactly what you are listing for YEARS, & we recently figured out her problem...It is an allergy/body reaction to a medicine she was on.

We learned, from the pediatric urologist, that trying to push the pee out actually pinches the urethra closed & causes more pain & frustration. My daughter was given relaxation exercises for when she sits on the potty. (give her a pin wheel, put her fee up on a stool, & take her mind off trying to pee by blowing on the pinwheel. This will relax her and she will pee.)

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definitely call your doc. She is way too uncomfortable. How would you feel if you would her? I would reduce the extra liquids. Also have the doc consider a bacterial infection as well as a viral infection.

No little girl should go through this.

1 mom found this helpful

Take her to a pediatric urologist. I have one I can refer if you are interested. Both myself and my youngest son suffered from kidney, urological issues. When I was young my mom took me to the doctor with 'peeing' issues roughly a million times. They kept telling her I was fine, she was certain I wasn't. Guess who was right?! I ended up with a bunch of bladder infections shortly after, and was ultimately treated with adult medicine they got so bad. Follow your instincts.

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Does your daughter take bubble baths? My 4 year old son had the same problem. He would go all the time and only pee a little tiny bit, but then have to go again just a few minutes later. When I took him to the pediatrician, the first thing he asked me was does my son like to take bubble baths. Of course he does. He took one everyday and could spend hours in there if I’d let him. He told me if it wasn’t a bladder infection then bubble bath soap could be irritating him. I had no idea that this could happen. He told me to try his suggestions for a couple of weeks and if he didn’t improve, then we would go in for some more tests. Honestly, I didn’t think it was the soap, but it turns out, he was right. Here’s what he recommended. Take a bath with no bubble bath. Bathe with water only. Keep all shampoos and soaps out of reach because they’ll get a hold of it and make their own bubble bath. Let her play in the water until she’s ready to get out. Once she’s ready to get out. Shampoo her hair and wash her body. Rinse immediately and get her out of the tub. Even shampoo and body wash can irritate her, so you have to get her out of the tub quickly after rinsing her off. After 3 or 4 days I saw improvement. My son now takes showers and hasn’t had any problems with frequent bathroom trips. Good luck to you and your daughter. I know how frustrating it can get.

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My name is S., I am 62 years old and I have 5 children, 20 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. I live in Auburn, WA.

I know from personal experience that some UTI-type infections really do not show up on tests until they get pretty serious. They may be too low level to grab the attention of a doctor but they are excruciatingly uncomfortable for the patient.

I would suggest looking up some natural, healthy approaches to treating &/or preventing UTI's and try them out. Yogurt and cranberry juice are the most well known and even my doctors have said they are beneficial.

All of my natural health books are packed right now because I am moving soon, or I would look a few others up for you.

Since your child is young, be very wary of vitamins/food supplements and herbal stuff even herbal teas (Always check these out with your doctor).

Try to stick with the nutritional stuff you can achieve with healthy food products.

S. Storms

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Hi H., you should call the doctor back. Perhaps there is something more they can do to help her get through it.

I know from personal experience what your little girl is going through and your right she is miserable. When I eat fatty foods like cheese, my digestive system gets very irritated. My colon stops contracting and feces gets backed up causing constipation/diarrhea. The pressure pushes on my bladder not allowing it to expand to hold urine. Which causes the urges to go often. If urine gets blocked or backed up it can cause an infection.

Another thing to consider is how much fiber is in her diet. If she is already having trouble at 4 she will most likely have trouble for the rest of her life. You want to talk to her DR about fiber powder/supplements. Picky eaters have more challenges and its even more difficult to get enough dietary fiber from foods.
Once bowel movements are restored to normal it can still take a few days for the colon to settle down.

My doctor tells me to avoid trigger foods and increase fiber intake. I do use a mild laxative (for constipation), pain reliever (for spasm/cramping),anti-oxidants cranberry, bilberry, blueberry juice or capsules (prevent infection). It can take any number of days before the symptoms all clear.

Small pantie liners to line her panties until it passes may help her feel more confident. She will not have to change her panties all day long.

Hope this helps,

I. S.
Nutrition Specialist

1 mom found this helpful

Hi! I'm just starting this issue with my 4 year old daughter, and it's really worrying me. It began 2 days ago when she insisted she has to pee every minute, almost right after she's gotten off the toilet. We went to the ped. yesterday and her test for diabetes and uti came back negative. Someone told me that a friend's daughter had an odd shaped urethra and the doc actually dialated it so that her urine wouldn't get stuck, for lack of a better word. Have you heard about that?

Hi H.,

My middle daughter had the same problem when she was about your daughter's age (and still does every once in a while). I found out that very little is known about bacterial infections in the bladder and that they only test for three different types when they do test. What was an absolutely (and quick) fix for us was D-Mannose (read information here: http://www.healingtherapies.info/D-Mannose.htm ) The one we use is available for sale at New Seasons or at this website: http://www.discovernutrition.com/ None of us has suffered from bladder issues since I found out about this product.

Good luck!


I would ask your pediatrician to refer you to a urologist. They can do a scan that will show how completely your daughter is emtying her bladder.

my 10 yr old has been dealing with the same problem for about 6 months. she has to pee all the time shell sit in there 30 mins, 1hr, 2hr, even 3hrs shes says she cant get up constant feeling to pee. we stopped swimming, any soap, she showers, no infections, we seen a ped urologists and kidneys are fine, doctors says her intestines are plugged, miralax for a few weekends, waited a month shes not better, bladder muscle relaxer, not working, doctor increased fiber and now taking lax every day. we even tried a day with lax every hr, didn't do a whole lot and now shes in there 2-3-4 hrs. i agree shes missing school , any fun, its emotional for everyone she cries for hrs in the bathroom. no kid should have this nothings working, i guess next stop is gi specialist thats sure not to be a fun experience. shell need a shrink by the time she gets fixed , she cries she doesn't want to live this way and i cant help her. any advice is great glad to know im not the only helpless mom out there.

Well its been another month and weve seen a gi specialist, they say shes backed up and needs to clean out thyats whats causing the feeling of peeing, things had gotten worse shes sat on there 5, 6, 7 8 hours at a time crying she couldn't get up shes not done only to get up for 1 hr and eat one meal and go back on for 7 more hours, shes was getting sores on her legs from sitting so long, shes now wipping constantly weve had to take the toilet paper away to stop her, we are considering a shrink for her state of mind, they tried cleanning her out with miralax every hour for 6 hrs for 3 days and this did nothing for the old backed up waste. they dont seen concerned at all they should live a dsay with a child who cries all day. Shes on a bladder muscle relaxer which has not helped, and now on some kindof poop pill which insurance will not cover and is 150 a month, dont think its helping either. they all say nerves are fine and there is no blockage, and this will take time. they did tell her only to sit there 15 mins at at time and force yourself to get up. that worked for a few days we finally sent her back to school and had her bathroom time down to 30 mins, but then shes back in there for an hour again. the urologists at the childrens hosp said they don't dialate the urethra anymore. and im on my own. Shes on high fiber low dairy diet. if you have any kind of breakthrough please post it im desperate for help

Hi H.: I think you probably need to take your daughter to see a urologist. I am speaking from experience because when I was your daughters age I had the very same problem and it turned out that there was some type of bladder issue that required surgery. I can't remember much but I do remember that I had to pee all the time (my mom initially thought that it was because I just had my baby sister) and the issue was that something that has to do with the bladder and pee control had not grown with me and needed to be enlarged. I hope this helps.

I feel you.My 9 yr old daughter has had severe bowel issues since 15 months old.with hospital stays surgery ,clean-outs.Miriolax and last year the urgent feeling of having to pee right after she already had gone.The ped also told me the same thing.The bowel is pushing on the bladder due to being backed up.I said' but she;s been having bowel movements everyday,good one's for once and the ped explained that even though a child has a bowel movemnt every day, they can still be very backed-up with stool.Anyway,my sweetheart this morn had that feeling' she calls it and couldn't get off the toilet and I'm saying' we have 10 minutes to get to the bus stop! The school is trying to take me to court for educational neglect .I feel so bad that I'm yelling at my child cause im more worried about the school than my child during the ;moment'.I don't have a car, so we can't miss the bus and the bus stop is 3 blocks away! She also is dealing with chronic sinus infections.If the school could see what the child goes through at home like we do maybe,just maybe they would understand? Good luck,and i have to take her in to see if it is bowel related or what but she has to suffer and wait until there's a day off from school cause they won't let her miss school for an app.

please email me my daughter just had this happen, test come back negative, they said she might be constipated so gave her laxitaves and supposorory then they said it could just be a thing she is going through.. I can't take it anymore,, the poor thing. she used to pee 3 times a day and had no problems then out of the blue all this started, althought I did notice about a week before this happened she had a huge growth spurt. she is 5 almost ____@____.com.. what did you every do for your daughter?

OMG! Please email me! I am having the EXACT same problem with my 4 year old daughter! We have been on a roller coaster ride of frustration since January this year!!! I have some suggestions that my doctor and I went through also...I posted a request about this a few months ago...email me and I will send you the information!

Definitely no bubble bathes...we had problems with that. Do increase things like yogurt, cranberry and things in her diet...at least one small portion daily. My daughter had this problem to a certain extent as well. Also, change laundry soap to a dye and scent free version. Even as a baby my daughter had to have scent free wipes and everything because of yeast infections from antibiotics they made me take when she was born. (they found a slightly elevated staph count in me..so to prevent infection from passing on they loaded me up with tons of antibiotics. Poor thing therefore was born with a chronic yeast infection that she didn't get rid of for a year! We cured it finally by simply slathering yogurt on her diaper area. It helped so much. In your daughter's case I doubt it is behavioral because she is actually trying to make it to the potty not just wetting her self or anything. She may be irritating it more by wiping too much though. Help her learn to wipe from "front to back". I don't suggest liners of any kind. Maybe a pull up at night though so she doesn't have to get up and change maybe? To this day any change in laundry soap, or even fabrics. She can't wear "shiny fabric" undies or anything. She has cotton ones only. We avoid all acrylics and rayon as much as possible, especially with underwear. Good luck, and get a new doctor if this one is blowing you off. He's obviously not taking you seriously and thinks this is a little girl "behavioral problem" when it isn't. Good Luck!

Hi H.,

I have a niece that has the same problem and her pediatrician diagnosed her with Labial Adhesion. It causes the opening of the urethra to be much much smaller therefore causing them to pee very often. They are unable to empty their bladder all at once so it means several trips to the bathroom and sometimes accidents. Ask your pediatrician. Eventually they grow out of it and some times they will prescribe premarin cream to put on the adhesion. It aids in keeping the urethral opening more open. Just food for thought. It never hurts to ask questions.

When I had an urinary tract infection I was actually given two medicines -- one antibiotic and another that turned your pee a shocking orange color, that I was told was a anesthetic -- would not treat the infection but just treat the feelings of urgency. It worked very well for me -- maybe you could describe this medicine and ask if your daughter could have a short trial of this to allow her to heal? I know she doesn't have an infection, but she has obviously irritated it in a similar way.

My Daughter has been experiencing similar problems. Our pediatrician said almost the same thing. I was wondering if you found something that helped?

Thank you so much for the info. Really glad to hear your daughter is doing well. OUr daughter has now come out of it also. We went to the urologist and found that there was nothing wrong with her anatomy. He gave us info on stuff to eliminate from her diet. One of the things was to avoid vitamins with artificial colors or vitamin C. About the time this all strted was when we got her new vitamins (tinker bell ones) and things started getting better about the time she ran out!!! (we have since talked to someone else that figured out they had vitamins causing the same problem) Thanks again for you response and I will put this info out there for others to see.

OMG - I know this may sound crazy but my almost 5 yr old daughter is doing the same thing - to a point. She is constantly changing her panties these days (last couple of weeks) she will just be standing there and "drip" a little and is going threw tons of tp to get herself dry. She went through the going potty 20 times in an hour. I can't say it was a "faze" but the going potty has stopped and now she just changes her panties 20 times a day even though she isn't peeing in them. How about a little cranberry juice with a tiny bit of water in it - that seemed to help my daughter so much. I now try to give it to her a couple days of week and she is doing so much better.
Hope this helps.

Sorry if my answer repeats things that have already been covered, for some reason, I can't see the answers...
Anyway, both of my children experienced this in different degrees when they were 4-5 years old. My daughter's issues were much more extreme, she was using the restroom nearly every 5-15 minutes. It was compounded by the fact that her school had auto-flush toilets which scared her. She had to walk to the front of the school to use the toilet in the nurses office and was missing a lot of class time. She was eventually diagnosed with "Extraordinary Daytime Urinary Frequency Syndrome." Because she was able to sleep normally, it was not due to dietary or environmental causes. It eventually went away on it's own, but it took a few months.
When our son experienced the same issues this summer (he had just turned 5) we knew what signs to look for. His issues went away on their own as well and only took about a month.

As a side note, my daughter has eczema, and a very common place to get it is on the back of your knees. It could have been a result of an intolerance to wheat, but it could have been seasonal as well -- which has been my experience. Hydrocortizone ointment twice a day will clear it up :)

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