Help: I think my child has a urinary tract infection!

Sometimes the symptoms of UTIs can be hard to spot in children. When in doubt, always consult with your child’s health care practitioner.

Help: I think my child has a urinary tract infection!
 Up to 8% of girls and 2% of boys will get a UTI by age five.

It can be difficult to tell when a child has a urinary tract infection. Sometimes there are no symptoms. Or your child may be too young to be able to explain what feels wrong.

Urinary tract infections, known as UTIs for short, are common in children. Before age seven, one of 12 girls and one of 50 boys will have a UTI. Young children are more likely than older children or adults to suffer kidney damage because of UTIs.

What is a UTI?

In short, a UTI occurs when bacteria enters the urine and travels to the bladder.  Normal urine contains no microorganisms, and the one-way flow aids in infection prevention. However, bacteria can still enter the urine via the urethra and migrate up into the bladder. When this happens, the bacteria multiply and, if not eliminated by the body, can cause infection.

Signs and symptoms

When you have a UTI, the linings of the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys usually turn red and inflamed. Older children may complain of pain in the lower stomach or back, as well as a frequent desire to urinate. When your child urinates, they may only pass a few drops. They may also have difficulty managing urinating, causing accidents, or wetting the bed. Some cases of UTIs cause a low-grade fever, loose faeces, and strong-smelling urine.

Can UTIs in children be prevented?

If your child’s urinary tract is normal, several actions can help prevent UTIs. One of the body’s best defences against UTIs is frequent bladder drainage. Drinking more fluids will enhance urine flow, which will help to flush illness from the body. Some youngsters are predisposed to UTIs, and low-dose antibiotics can assist. Constipation treatment is also beneficial.

Changing nappies more frequently in babies and toddlers can help avoid UTIs. It is critical to teach your child excellent restroom habits when they begin toilet training. Girls should wipe from front to back after each bowel movement, not back to front. Children should also avoid “holding it in” if they need to urinate and have access to a restroom. When urine sits in the bladder for an extended period, bacteria thrive.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect your child has a UTI, contact your doctor, who will perform a urine test.  If your doctor suspects your child has a UTI, they’ll likely prescribe medication to target the bacteria that is most likely causing the illness. After your health care physician receives the urine culture results, the medication may be changed to one that is more effective against the type of bacteria discovered in your child’s urine.

Most UTIs are cleared within a week if treated properly, but it can take weeks for all symptoms to disappear. Even if the symptoms have subsided, it is critical that your child continues to take the medications as prescribed by your doctor. UTIs may reoccur until thoroughly treated, or your child may get another illness.

Do UTIs have long-term consequences?

Young children are most vulnerable to kidney injury from UTIs, particularly if they have unexplained urinary tract abnormalities. Scarring, poor growth, improper kidney function, high blood pressure, and other issues, might result from the damage. It is critical that your child be thoroughly examined and treated as soon as possible.