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Division of Urology

Pediatric Urology Conditions

Urinary Frequency

What is urinary frequency?

Urinary frequency is the need to go to the bathroom more often than normal given the child’s age and health status.

What causes urinary frequency?

Sometimes frequency is a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Other children need to go to the bathroom frequently because their bladder is overactive – it is overly sensitive to the presence of urine and tries to empty more often than needed.

Benign urinary frequency

We treat many children with a condition known as benign urinary frequency. This is a self-limiting condition that with time and patience will often resolve on its own. It generally occurs in previously toilet-trained children between the ages of 4 to 5 years and is typically thought of as a sensory urgency – children feel like they need to go to the bathroom when there is no true physical need to do so . These children are using the bathroom as often as every 10 to 30 minutes or 30 to 40 times per day, expelling only small amounts of urine. Overnight, they are usually able to sleep without waking to use the bathroom. Underlying physical abnormalities are rare. These children usually have a normal physical exam, a normal urinalysis and a normal renal bladder ultrasound (if ordered).

Our approach to treating urinary frequency

Each year, we treat more than 325 children for urinary frequency.

During your office visit we will take a detailed history regarding your child’s urinary habits, bowel habits and her diet. If your child has a urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder, our team will work with you and your child to determine whether medications or other treatments are appropriate.

Although frustrating to children and families, benign urinary frequency is a harmless condition. We understand how challenging it can be for the families and children who are dealing with these symptoms. Children with benign frequency certainly feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom and can become quite upset when told they should “just wait.” Our DOVE team will work with you and your child on strategies to manage the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom until the condition resolves on its own.

Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: May 2011

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