Urinary Tract Infection UTI In Children

A Urinary Tract Infection UTI in children is an infection in the urinary tract. Infections are caused by microbes—organisms too small to be seen without a microscope. Bacteria* are the most common cause of UTIs. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are quickly removed by the body before they cause symptoms. But sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause infection.

What causes Urinary Tract Infection UTI In Children?

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that live in the bowel, the part of the digestive tract where stool is changed from liquid to solid. The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) causes most UTIs. The urinary tract has several systems to prevent infection.

The points where the ureters attach to the bladder act like one-way valves to prevent urine from backing up, or refluxing, toward the kidneys, and urination washes microbes out of the body. The body’s natural defenses also prevent infection. But despite these safeguards, infections still occur.

Other factors that cause urinary tract infection UTI in children:

  • Waiting to urinate. Regular urination helps flush away bacteria. Holding urine allows bacteria to grow.
  • Making too little urine. A child that doesn’t drink enough fluids may not make enough urine to flush away bacteria.
  • Constipation. Constipation is a condition in which a child has fewer than two bowel movements a week. Stools can be hard, dry, small, and difficult to pass. The hard stool in the bowel may press against the urinary tract and block the flow of urine, allowing bacteria to grow.

Some children are just more prone to UTIs than others, just as some children are more prone to getting coughs, colds, or ear infections.

Who gets UTIs?

Any child can get a UTI, though girls get UTIs more often than boys.

Children with a condition called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) are at higher risk for UTIs. VUR causes urine to reflux at the point where one or both ureters attach to the bladder. When urine stays in the urinary tract, bacteria have a chance to grow and spread. Infants and young children who get a UTI often have VUR.

Boys younger than 6 months who are not circumcised are at greater risk for a UTI than circumcised boys the same age. Boys who are circumcised have had the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the tip of the penis, removed.

What are the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection UTI In Children?

A child with a UTI may not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can range from mild to severe. UTI symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • pain or burning during urination with only a few drops of urine at a time
  • irritability
  • not eating
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
  • urinating often
  • pain in the back or side below the ribs
  • leaking urine into clothes or bedding in older children

When should I call a health care provider?

Call a health care provider right away if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher in an infant or 101 degrees or higher in an older child
  • burning feeling during urination
  • frequent or intense urges to urinate, even when there is little urine to pass
  • pain in the back or side below the ribs
  • cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine

How are Urinary Tract infections (UTIs) In Children Treated?

Bacteria-fighting medicines called antibiotics are used to treat UTIs. While the lab is doing the urine culture, the health care provider may begin treatment with an antibiotic that treats the bacteria most likely to be causing the infection.

Your child will need to take antibiotics for at least 3 to 5 days and maybe as long as several weeks. Be sure your child takes every pill or every dose of liquid. Your child should feel better after a couple of days, but the infection might come back if your child stops taking the antibiotic too early.

Common antibiotics your doctor will prescribe to treat a UTI include: 

  • amoxicillin
  • ceftriaxone
  • ciprofloxacin cipo
  • nitrofurantoin
  • any number of other antibiotics, depending on your symptoms and medical history

Other UTI At-Home Treatments

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry supplements
  • Increase vitamin c intake
  • Take a probiotic supplement

Additional Reading:

Urinary Tract Infections UTIs in Adults

UTI Latest Treatment Methods

Adult Pediatric Urology & Urogynecology

Our Clinical Research Department was developed to fulfill our mission to provide high-quality patient centered care. When existing treatments fail or significantly lower your quality of life we seek out new, safe methods that give you more options and make further advancements in the fields of urology and urogynecology.

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