Frequent Urination in Teens

by Beth Greenwood

    Teens may not give much thought to potential health problems. However, there are some signs or symptoms that can indicate either a minor health issue or a much more serious health problem. One of these symptoms is frequent urination, which can indicate endometriosis in teen girls and bladder infections, diabetes or bladder cancer in either boys or girls.

    Endometriosis

    Endometriosis can affect girls and women of any age. It occurs when tissue -- similar to the cells lining the uterus -- is found outside of its usual location. Endometrial tissue can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or ligaments that support the uterus, as well as the tissue that covers the bladder and rectum. Although the most common symptoms include pelvic pain or severe cramps with a menstrual period, frequent or painful urination can also occur. It can be addressed through a minor surgical procedure called a laparoscopy and treated with surgery or medicine. Endometriosis cannot be cured, only treated -- the goal is to relieve pain and protect fertility.

    Urinary Tract Infections

    Urinary tract infections tend to be more common in teen girls than teen boys, especially girls who are sexually active, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, is shorter in women than it is in men, which makes it easier for germs to travel up into the bladder and cause an infection. Intercourse may irritate the urethra or introduce germs. A frequent urge to urinate, along with burning or pain when the urine is passed, can indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection in both boys and girls. Urinary tract infections must be treated with antibiotics.

    Diabetes

    Diabetes affects the way the body uses sugar, because a person with diabetes doesn’t make enough insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin or produces so little that the blood sugar gets too high. Type 2 diabetes, once a disease of middle-aged and older adults, has become increasingly frequent in children and teens, according to KidsHealth. Type 2 diabetes usually affects overweight teens. Frequent urination occurs because the body is trying to wash out the extra glucose, and a teen with diabetes will also become very thirsty. Although Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be controlled with weight loss, diet and exercise, medication is required for Type 1 diabetes and may be required for Type 2.

    Bladder Cancer

    Although it is rare, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, bladder cancer can occur in teens. The most common type is transitional cell cancer. If left untreated, bladder cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Blood in the urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer, but it can also cause frequent urination. The cancer is usually diagnosed with a cystoscopy, in which a flexible tube is inserted into the bladder to allow a physician to examine the inside, or X-ray procedures. Bladder cancer in teens is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy and medications, or chemotherapy.

    About the Author

    Beth Greenwood is a registered nurse and writer. She served as a columnist for the Tides Foundation's Community Clinic Voice on quality improvement and now contributes to various websites. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College and is a graduate of the California HealthCare Foundation Health Care Leadership Program.

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