Kid Question: Does water go straight to your bottom?

by Deb on August 22, 2011


“I mean bladder? I mean when you drink it does it go straight through you?”

I was pretty happy to hear big girl ask this, because it was one that confused me for years. I had quite a logical but completely wrong image in my head, I suspect most kids do.

From an early age, when we cough and splutter people say it ‘went down the wrong way.’ Which it does, but very few kids realise that air is going down their throat into their lungs. So when they are told there are different ways for things to go, many kids develop an image of swallowing that includes a ‘drink tube’ and a ‘food tube.’ Given that urine is mostly water, it’s an obvious next step to think anything going down the ‘drink tube’ somehow goes straight to the bladder. Especially once they make the connection or are told that drinking will make you wee.

What really happens?

Firstly, there really are two tubes, but one is for air and goes into your lungs. The other carries all your food and drink down into your stomach.

Once it reaches your stomach even more liquid is added and it is squeezed and mixed to make a type of soup. It moves into your small intestine, which is actually very long. This is where most of the food gets into your body – blood goes very close to the intestines and the tiny dissolved bits of food, too small to see, get pulled through the walls of the intestines and into the blood. Blood is the transport for your body and carries the food and air to everywhere that needs it.


Seeing blood is the transport it also carries your body’s rubbish, including the bits that are used up or broken. A lot of this is filtered out by the kidneys – they act like a very fine net. They catch the rubbish and take out some of the water from the blood at the same time, and this is what makes wee. It goes from your kidneys down to your bladder, and when it’s full it lets you know you need to go to the toilet.

Drinking water puts more water in your body – your blood, your skin, your muscles and even your bones. Some of that water needs to come out and will be pulled out into your bladder. But it isn’t necessarily the same water that just went in.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Penny August 22, 2011 at 7:21 am

Love this Deb! Great information. I can’t wait until my little girl start asking me questions like that.


Colin Wee August 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

Hey Deb, it could be an interesting follow up to talk about water rationing or rehydrating the body while on hiking or exercising. From what I understand the body apportions water differently when in limited supply. Good post! Colin
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Heather August 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

@Colin — I agree! Or even the difference between dark yellow pee and clear pee — I’ve gotten that question from my son.
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Deb August 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

Thanks guys, I’ll add it to my list!


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