Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections In Children
Urinary tract infections in children can usually be diagnosed by your GP. They’ll carry out a physical examination, ask about your child’s symptoms, and request a urine sample.
You may be asked to collect the urine sample yourself, or a doctor or nurse at your GP surgery may help you.
These tests help your GP identify what’s causing the infection and determine whether it’s in the lower or upper part of the urinary tract.
If your child is less than three months old, your GP may refer you straight to hospital to see a specialist in caring for children without asking for a urine sample.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bladder Infections In Children
The symptoms of urinary tract infections vary in babies or young children and older children. However, the babies usually present with the following symptoms:
Presence of only fever at times.
The baby remains irritated due to abdominal pain and is reluctant to eat. As a result, the growth of the baby is poor.
As the child is not eating correctly, loss of weight, weakness, and exhaustion occurs.
Vomiting and diarrhea are commonly seen.
The old children usually present with the following symptoms:
The infection is usually accompanied by fever.
The patient experiences pain in the lower back and abdominal region.
The urine flow is restricted so the patient can pass a few drops of urine each time.
Urinary incontinence or leakage of urine can occur in some children.
The urine appears cloudy and smells bad.
Preventive Measures Of Bladder Infection
Doctors often suggest parents take necessary preventive measures at home so that they can prevent bladder infection affecting their children.
- Parents need to check that kids always drink enough water to stay hydrated. Frequent urination helps to flush out the bacteria.
- Proper hygiene of the private parts is another way to keep your kids free from a bladder infection. Avoid using diapers. Use clean cotton underwear which must be changed as frequently as they get soiled.
- Parents need to check whether their kids have constipation or not. It is common for kids to have constipation and a loaded rectum compresses the urethra making it difficult for children to pass urine which leads to stagnation and infection. If your kids suffer from constipation, you need to take corrective measures to relive the condition. Your doctor will help you with that.
Often if your kids are infants with high grade fever and no other symptoms, you need to get them examined so as to rule out and treat Urinary Tract Infection . Many a times children have structural problems in the urinary tract which can cause repeated UTI. A pediatric surgeon can help you with this.
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When Are Further Tests Advised
Urine infection in children is common. In most cases, a child with a urine infection will make a full recovery.
Tests are advised in some cases to check on the kidneys and/or bladder. Your doctor will advise if your child needs further tests. It depends on factors such as the child’s age, the severity of the infection and whether it has happened before. For example:
- Children over the age of 6 months who have a one-off urine infection which promptly clears with treatment do not usually need any further tests.
- Children with a severe infection, or with an infection with unusual features, may need tests.
- Children who have two or more infections of any severity may need tests.
The tests that are advised may vary depending on local policies and the child’s age. There are various tests which may be used. These are to check on the structure and function of the urinary tract .
The results of the tests are normal in most cases. However, in some cases, an abnormality such as vesicoureteric reflux may be detected . Depending on whether an abnormality is detected, and how severe it is, a kidney specialist may advise a regular daily low dose of an antibiotic medicine. This treatment is advised in some cases to prevent further urine infections, with the aim of preventing damage to the kidneys.
How Do I Know If My Child Has A Urinary Tract Infection
UTIs are sometimes hard to diagnose in babies and young children, because they can’t tell us how they’re feeling. Therefore, urine should be tested in a baby or a young child who has an unexplained fever for three days. A UTI may be the cause of the fever. Fever might be the only symptom in a baby with pyelonephritis.
An older child might be able to tell you that it hurts to urinate. Children who have a sudden need to urinate and who hold themselves or squat to keep from urinating might have a UTI. If your child has a kidney infection, you may be able to tell that he or she is sick. Your child may act tired, or have a fever, or have nausea and vomiting.
Of course, babies and children can get a fever from many other illnesses, such as colds, ear infections and the flu. Also, other things can cause pain with urination or loss of urine control. Irritation at the opening of the urethra may cause pain with urination. Bubble baths can irritate the tender skin around the urethra and make urination hurt. Dirty diapers or underpants can irritate the skin around the genital area and cause pain. .
If you think your child has a UTI, call your doctor.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
- is under 6 months old and has a fever,
- is older than 6 months and has had a fever for more than 48 hours,
- is in pain when urinating, or has foul-smelling urine,
- has suddenly started having accidents during the day or at night time after many months of being dry,
- has blood in the urine, and/or
- has severe stomach or back pain.
Symptoms In Children Under Three And Babies
Younger children and infants are different. They are unable to communicate their discomfort on passing urine and you may not notice them going more frequently to the toilet. They are often sick with a fever and may be irritable and unsettled. Young babies can be extremely unwell, because the infection can spread into the bloodstream .
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Urinary Tract Infections Are Prevalent
Urinary tract infections are prevalent in kids especially if you have an infant in diapers or an older child that holds in their urine for more extended periods . This is especially true for a constipated toddler who is less able or unwilling to empty their bladder. However, a childs age does not matter when it comes to urinary tract infections. All kids of all ages can get UTIs.
How Is A Uti In Children Treated
A UTI in children is commonly treated using antibiotics. The doctor will send your child’s urine sample to the lab, but analysis may take a couple of days. In the meantime, he or she will prescribe your child an antibiotic that treats the most common bacteria that cause UTIs. If your child’s urine culture identifies bacteria that may be causing symptoms, but is not treated by that antibiotic, the doctor may prescribe a new antibiotic.
Be sure to give your child the antibiotic in the prescribed dosage at the prescribed times each day. Your child must finish the full antibiotic course to ensure the infection doesn’t return. You should also encourage your child to drink plenty of water.
With proper treatment of a UTI in children, they should feel better in two to three days. Your doctor may need to perform further tests if your child has repeated infections. It is important to treat your child’s UTI promptly because untreated infections can cause kidney damage or, in rare cases, a bacterial infection of the bloodstream known as .
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Utis
Every child can present UTI symptoms differently and symptoms may vary by age, but typically they will include:
- urinary frequency or an increased urge to pee
- bad odor to urine
- pain in the lower abdomen
- urinary accidents when they were previously completely potty trained
- blood in the urine
- pain with urination
For infants, they may show nonspecific signs such as a fever, irritability or poor appetite, but other signs may also include a failure to gain weight or develop normally and a bad odor to their urine, Dr. Kronborg added.
How Can You Prevent Utis In The Future
Change your baby’s diapers often to prevent bacteria from growing. As your child gets older, teach them good bathroom habits to prevent UTIs. Instruct girls to wipe from front to back. This helps to prevent bacteria in poop from getting into the and urinary tract. Encourage your kids to go to the bathroom as soon as they feel the urge — not to hold it in.
Girls should avoid bubble baths and should not use perfumed soaps. And, they should wear cotton underwear — not nylon — to improve airflow and prevent bacteria from growing.
Have your kids drink lots of water, which helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Extra water also prevents constipation, which can create blockages in the urinary tract that allow bacteria to grow.
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How Is A Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosed How Do Healthcare Providers Test For A Uti In Toddlers
After interviewing you about your childs history and performing a physical examination, the healthcare provider may order the following tests:
- Urine tests like the leukocyte esterase and a urine culture to test for the presence of bacteria or white blood cells.
- Blood tests looking for infection or kidney function.
- Ultrasound or CT of the kidneys and bladder.
- Voiding cystourethrogram , which evaluates the bladder and urethra to detect vesicoureteral reflux .
What Is The Urinary Tract And How Does It Normally Work
The urinary tract is the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
The kidneys filter and remove waste and water from the blood to produce urine. The urine travels from the kidneys down 2 narrow tubes called the ureters. The urine is then stored in the bladder.
Front view of the urinary tract
Side view of the female urinary tract
Side view of the male urinary tract
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Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria from poo entering the urinary tract.
The bacteria enter through the tube that carries pee out of the body .
Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.
Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:
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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.
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Urinary Tract Infection In Children
Overview of urinary tract infection in children
A urinary tract infection in children is a fairly common condition. Bacteria that enter the urethra are usually flushed out through urination. However, when bacteria arent expelled out of the urethra, they may grow within the urinary tract. This causes an infection.
The urinary tract consists of the parts of the body that are involved in urine production. They are:
- two kidneys that filter your blood and extra water to produce urine
- two ureters, or tubes, that take urine to your bladder from your kidneys
- a bladder that stores your urine until its removed from your body
- a urethra, or tube, that empties urine from your bladder to outside your body
Your child can develop a UTI when bacteria enter the urinary tract and travel up the urethra and into the body. The two types of UTIs most likely to affect children are bladder infections and kidney infections.
When a UTI affects the bladder, its called cystitis. When the infection travels from the bladder to the kidneys, its called pyelonephritis. Both can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but a kidney infection can lead to more serious health complications if left untreated.
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How Is A Bladder Infection In Children Treated
Antibiotics help treat bladder infections in children. The mode of administration of the drug depends upon the age of the child. If a child is two months old or above, antibiotics are administered by mouth as liquids . If a child is reluctant to take medications and is continuously vomiting, the drug is injected into the body through the veins. The infection usually subsides in two to three days, but the entire course of antibiotics needs to be completed. Therefore, the doctor might recommend the diagnostic tests again to check if the antibiotics have worked against the infection or not. The commonly used antibiotics are listed below:
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Can Utis In Children Be Prevented
There are several things you can do to help prevent your child from developing a UTI:
- Practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of bacteria from the gut to the urinary tract. When wiping a girls bottom after a poo, it is important to always wipe from front to back .
- Being constipated can also increase the risk of developing a UTI, so if your child is constipated, see your doctor or pharmacist.
- Make sure your child is hydrated by offering them plenty of fluids to drink.
- Regularly change their nappy.
What Are The Symptoms
Babies and young children may not have the most common symptoms, such as pain or burning when they urinate. Also, they can’t tell you what they feel. In a baby or a young child, look for:
- A fever not caused by the flu or another known illness.
- Urine that has a strange smell.
Older children are more likely to have common symptoms, such as:
- Pain or burning when they urinate.
- Needing to urinate often.
- Loss of bladder control.
- Red, pink, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine.
- Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.
- Lower belly pain.
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When Should I Contact My Childs Healthcare Provider
Urinary tract infections need to be taken care of right away. Call a healthcare provider if your child:
- Shows a decrease in feeding or drinking.
- Isnt tolerating home medications.
- Experiences an increase in fever or pain.
- Becomes more irritable or inactive.
- Has any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Quickly getting treatment for your childs UTI decreases the risk of kidney problems and the risk that the infection could spread.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Although a urinary tract infection isnt a life-threatening condition, it may result in a hospital stay or lead to complications that can affect your childs quality of life. Be sure to have them checked out by their healthcare provider as soon as they show symptoms. Always make sure that your child takes all of their prescribed medication. Even if they seem better, you should still have them take the medication until the treatment is complete.
What Causes A Uti In Children
- A structural or functional abnormality in the urinary tract .
- An abnormal backward flow of urine from the bladder up the ureters and toward the kidneys, known as vesicoureteral reflux, which is very common in kids with UTIs.
In some cases, additional tests such as ultrasound or bladder x-rays may be recommended to look for these conditions and to determine the most effective treatment.
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Causes Of Bladder Infection In Children
The prime cause of Urinary Tract Infection is bacteria, and E-coli is the primary bacteria responsible for bladder infection. This bacterium is present in abundance in the stools and it travels from there to the urinary system to cause UTI. A childs body can often not fight the infection, which creates critical health conditions that may put your children at risk.
How Do Kids Get Utis
- Kidneys, which filter wastes and extra water out of the blood to make urine
- Ureters, which send urine from the kidneys into the bladder
- Bladder, which stores urine
- Urethra, which empties urine from the bladder out of the body
A bladder infection is called cystitis. A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.
Girls are more likely to get UTIs than boys are because their urethra is shorter. Bacteria from the can more easily get into the and urethra.
Some kids have a problem with their bladder or kidneys that makes them more likely to get UTIs. Narrowing in the urinary tract can block urine flow and allow germs to multiply. A condition called vesicoureteral reflux can cause urine to back up from the bladder into the ureters and kidneys.
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