Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections
The urinary tract is where our bodies make and get rid of urine . It comprises the kidneys, and stretches out to the ureters , down to the bladder, and finally the urethra .
Infections of the kidneys or ureters are known as upper UTIs. Infections of the bladder or infections of urethra are known as lower UTIs.
It can be difficult to tell whether a child has a UTI, because the symptoms can be vague and young children cannot easily communicate how they feel.
Signs that your child may have an UTI can include:
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections
Here are some things you can do at home to help your child avoid urinary tract infections :
- Make sure your child always drinks plenty of water throughout the day.
- Encourage your child to urinate regularly, including before every meal or snack and before bed.
- Get a toilet step to support your childs feet until they reach the floor. This can be especially good for girls. The foot support helps them to relax their pelvic floors and stomach muscles so they can empty their bladders completely.
- Discourage your child from straining or trying to push urine out. This is especially important for girls.
- See your GP if your child has constipation or hard poo these are risk factors for UTIs.
How Are Utis In Children Diagnosed
It’s important to know that UTI symptoms are similar to symptoms of other conditions and infections. Always contact your child’s primary care doctor when symptoms appear. He or she will ask about your child’s symptoms to determine if an examination is necessary.
To confirm a UTI and identify the type of bacteria causing it, the doctor may need a urine sample. Older children will be asked to urinate in a cup at the doctor’s office. To diagnose a baby or young child, the doctor may need to:
- Insert a catheter through his or her urethra and into the bladder to collect urine.
- Collect urine by attaching a bag around his or her genitals, within a diaper, until the child urinates. This method carries a risk of urine contamination by normal skin bacteria.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
If you think your child is unwell and could have a UTI, contact your GP as soon as possible.
This is not normally a serious type of infection, but it should be diagnosed and treated quickly to reduce the length of time of infection and any risk of complications.
Your GP should be able to diagnose your child with a UTI by asking about their symptoms, examining them and arranging for a sample of their urine to be tested for signs of an infection.
Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections
Most urinary tract infections in children are caused by bacteria that normally live in the digestive system getting into the urethra .
In young children, bacteria can enter the urethra when they wipe their bottom after going to the toilet, and soiled toilet paper comes into contact with their genitals.
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Can Utis Be Prevented In Children
If your child has a normal urinary tract, certain habits can help prevent UTIs. Draining the bladder often is one of the bodys best defenses against UTIs. Drinking more fluids will increase urine flow to flush infection out of the body. Some children are more prone to getting UTIs, and low dose antibiotics can help. Treatment of constipation also helps.
How Serious Are The Infections In Children
Urinary infections in children usually go away quickly if they get medical care right away. But if your child keeps getting infections, your doctor may suggest tests to rule out more serious problems.
Urinary infections can lead to a serious infection throughout the body called . Problems from a urinary infection are more likely to happen in babies born too soon, in newborns, and in infants who have something blocking the flow of urine.
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Signs Your Child Has A Uti
Urethra infection and bladder infection are the most common forms of UTI in children, but these infections can also affect the ureters and kidneys. If your child has a UTI, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Foul-smelling, cloudy or blood-tinged urine
- Frequent urination, although very little urine may be produced
- Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite
- Pain below your child’s belly button
- Pain or burning sensation when your child urinates
- Waking at night to urinate
Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections In A Child
The most common signs and symptoms of a UTI in your child may include:
- Pain, burning, or stinging sensation when urinating
- Waking up at night to use the bathroom often
- Belly pain in the area around the liver.
- Foul-smelling pee that is cloudy or containing blood
Sometimes a mild infection might turn into a chronic one, especially in young children or when the infection gets to the kidneys. Signs of a more serious infection in young children may include:
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How Are The Infections Diagnosed
The doctor will give your child a physical examination and ask about his or her symptoms. Your child also will have lab tests, such as a urinalysis and a urine culture, to check for germs in the urine. It takes 1 to 2 days to get the results of a urine culture, so many doctors will prescribe medicine to fight the infection without waiting for the results. This is because a child’s symptoms and the urinalysis may be enough to show an infection.
After your child gets better, the doctor may have him or her tested to find out if there is a problem with the urinary tract. For example, urine might flow backward from the bladder into the kidneys. Problems like this can make a child more likely to get an infection in the bladder or kidneys.
What Are The Types Of Urinary Tract Infections
There are two types of urinary tract infections found in toddlers.
Lower Urinary Tract infection – It is also known as cystitis. Infection is found in the urinary bladder.
Upper Urinary Tract infection – It is also known as pyelonephritis. Infection is found in the kidney.
Urethritis – Infection is found in the urethra.
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How Is A Uti Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. The provider will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
- Urine testing. This is also known as urinalysis. Your childs urine is sent to a lab to check for red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, protein, and signs of infection. The urine will also be sent for a culture and sensitivity. This is done to figure out what type of bacteria is causing the infection and what medicine is best to treat the infection.
- Kidney ultrasound. This is a painless imaging test. It uses sound waves and a computer to make images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. It can show internal organs as they function and can assess blood flow through vessels. A boy with a UTI or a girl younger than age 5 or 6 may need this test.
- Voiding cystourethrogram . This is a type of X-ray of the urinary tract. A thin, flexible tube is put in the tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body . The bladder is filled with a liquid dye. X-ray images are taken as the bladder fills and empties. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys.
How Are Utis Treated In Children
UTIs are treated with antibiotics and usually come in a syrup or liquid form that your child can drink. Children who have a serious UTI may need to be hospitalised to receive antibiotics that are given straight into the vein through a drip.
You can help your child recover from a UTI by doing the following:
- Give your child the antibiotics as your doctor recommended it is very important to finish the whole course of antibiotics, even if the child appears to be feeling better.
- Keep your child at home from childcare so they can get extra rest at home.
- Offer your child plenty of fluids to drink
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What Are The Symptoms Of Utis In Children
Symptoms of a UTI in a child may include:
- pain or burning when urinating
- pain in the lower part of the stomach
- feeling a need to urinate often, or asking to use the toilet often
- passing some urine before getting to the toilet quickly enough
- smelly or discoloured urine
Some children with a UTI may not show any of these symptoms they may just seem generally unwell.
Treatment For More Severe Utis
Kids with a more severe infection may need treatment in a hospital so they can get antibiotics by injection or IV .
This might happen if:
- the child has high fever or looks very ill, or a kidney infection is likely
- the child is younger than 6 months old
- bacteria from the infected urinary tract may have spread to the blood
- the child is dehydrated or is vomiting and cannot take any fluids or medicine by mouth
Kids with VUR will be watched closely by the doctor. VUR might be treated with medicines or, less commonly, surgery. Most kids outgrow mild forms of VUR, but some can develop kidney damage or kidney failure later in life.
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How Are Utis Diagnosed
To diagnose a UTI, health care providers ask questions about what’s going on, do an exam, and take a sample of pee for testing.
How a sample is taken depends on a child’s age. Older kids might simply need to pee into a sterile cup. For younger children in diapers, a catheter is usually preferred. This is when a thin tube is inserted into the urethra up to the bladder to get a “clean” urine sample.
The sample may be used for a urinalysis or a urine culture . Knowing what bacteria are causing the infection can help your doctor choose the best treatment.
Recurrent Utis In Children
A small number of children have recurring UTIs. If your child’s had a UTI before, it’s important that both of you watch for the return of any associated symptoms.
Tell your GP about any symptoms as soon as possible so a diagnosis can be confirmed and treatment can begin.
If your child has a problem that increases their risk of UTIs, such as faulty valves that allow urine to flow the wrong way, they may be prescribed low-dose antibiotics as a long-term measure to prevent further infections.
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About Urinary Tract Infections In Children
Urinary tract infections in children are fairly common, but not usually serious. They can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
A UTI may be classed as either:
- an upper UTI if it’s a kidney infection or an infection of the ureters, the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder
- a lower UTI if it’s a bladder infection or an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body
Urinary Tract Infections In Babies
It can be hard to figure out whats wrong with babies when all they can do to communicate pain is cry. A fussy infant may have any number of health problems, from colds to rashes, but some medical problems are harder to identify than others. For example, many parents may not know that babies can get infections in their urinary tract. In fact, childhood urinary tract infections account for more than 1 million pediatrician visits each year in the US.
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria in the kidneys, ureters , or bladder. Sometimes the body can rid itself of this bacteria but when it cannot, the bacteria can build up and cause an infection. Bacteria and other infection-causing microbes may enter the urinary tract when an infant has a dirty diaper or when babies are wiped from back to front. Good hydration enabling frequent urination and maintaining proper hygiene can help prevent UTIs.
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How Are They Treated
Your child will take antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. Give this medicine to your child as your doctor says. Do not stop it just because your child feels better. He or she needs to take all the medicine to get better. The number of days a child will need to take the medicine depends on the illness, the child’s age, and the type of antibiotic.
Have your child drink extra fluids to flush out the germs. Remind your older child to go to the bathroom often and to empty the bladder each time.
Eating Diet & Nutrition
Food choices do not help prevent or treat bladder infections in children, but drinking plenty of liquids may help. Talk with a health care professional about how much liquid your child should drink, depending on his or her age, size, and other health conditions.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and other components of the National Institutes of Health conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.
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Preventing Utis In Children
It isn’t possible to prevent all childhood UTIs, but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of your child getting one.
The following advice may help:
- if possible, exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months after they’re born this can help improve your baby’s immune system and reduce their risk of constipation
- encourage girls to wipe their bottom from front to back this helps to minimise the chances of bacteria entering the urethra
- make sure your child is well hydrated and goes to the toilet regularly not urinating regularly and “holding in” urine can make it easier for bacteria to infect the urinary tract
- avoid nylon and other types of synthetic underwear these can help promote the growth of bacteria loose-fitting cotton underwear should be worn instead
- avoid using scented soaps or bubble baths these can increase your child’s risk of developing a UTI
- take steps to reduce your child’s risk of constipation make sure they drink enough to keep their urine pale and clear during the day, and speak to your GP about medications that can help if constipation is a persistent problem
Some people feel that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can help reduce their risk of UTIs.
However, recent high-quality research into these claims found little evidence to suggest cranberries have a significant impact on your chances of developing a UTI.
When Should I Take My Child To See A Doctor
You should take your child to see a doctor if they develop any symptoms of a UTI such as pain or burning when urinating, needing to urinate more often, smelly or discoloured urine, pain in the lower stomach, fever or vomiting. You should also look out for their seeming generally unwell with a fever, even if they dont have any other obvious symptoms.
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What If My Child Has Had Quite A Few Bladder Or Kidney Infections
If your child has had pyelonephritis or cystitis more than a few times, your doctor may want to get x-rays of your child’s urinary tract. The x-rays would show the bladder, the ureters and the kidneys. Or your doctor might get a sonogram. The x-ray or the sonogram can show if there is a problem in the kidneys, the ureters or the bladder that causes infections. Your doctor may refer your child to a special doctor who treats urinary tract problems. Sometimes taking a low dose of an antibiotic for a long time can stop repeat infections.
Most children who have many UTIs don’t have a problem in the urinary tract. Instead, they have poor urinary habits. Teaching your child good bathroom habits can help prevent UTIs.
Treatments For Urinary Tract Infections In A Child
If the doctor establishes that the UTI is due to a bacteria infection, they will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are the best way to fight bacterial infections. The doctor may prescribe them for anywhere between three to ten days.
Most UTIs get cured in about a week but your child should take another urine test after finishing their medicine. The number of days a child will need to take the medicine depends on the illness, the child’s age, and the type of antibiotic.
Since the condition involves a child, you are responsible for helping your child prevent future infections. You can do so by:
- Making sure your child drinks plenty of fluids
- Teaching the female children to wipe from the front to the back after using the bathroom
- Making sure your child empties their bladder completely when urinating
- Protecting your child from getting constipation
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Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Blood in urine and new onset since starting antibiotic
- Taking antibiotic more than 24 hours, and pain with passing urine is severe.
- Taking antibiotic more than 48 hours and fever still there or comes back
- Taking antibiotic more than 3 days and pain not better
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
When To Contact A Medical Professional
Things you can do to prevent UTIs include:
- Avoid giving your child bubble baths.
- Have your child wear loose-fitting underpants and clothing.
- Increase your child’s intake of fluids.
- Keep your child’s genital area clean to prevent bacteria from entering through the urethra.
- Teach your child to go the bathroom several times every day.
- Teach your child to wipe the genital area from front to back to reduce the spread of bacteria.
To prevent recurrent UTIs, the provider may recommend low-dose antibiotics after the first symptoms have gone away.
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