Pediatric Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Pediatric Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

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Summary

Recurrent UTIs (urinary tract infections) are when a child has multiple infections of the urinary tract.

Expanded overview

UTIs (urinary tract infections) occur when there is an infection in the kidneys, ureters (tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder), bladder or urethra (tube through which urine drains from the bladder outside the body). UTIs are fairly common in children, especially in girls and uncircumcised boys. When a child has multiple UTIs over a short period, this is known as recurrent UTIs.

Causes

Causes of UTIs in children include:

  • Constipation
  • Kidney stone
  • Not fully emptying the bladder
  • Not properly wiping after a bowel movement, allowing bacteria to enter the urethra

Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI may include:

  • Changes in appearance or smell of urine
  • Changes in frequency of urination
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain or discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Pain when urinating
  • Vomiting

Treatment

Treatments for urinary tract infections may include:

  • Antibiotics to get rid of the infection
  • Medications to reduce pain
  • Non-drug methods of pain control, such as the application of a heating pad
  • Instructions to drink more fluids

You should take your child to the doctor to make sure your child gets symptom relief and that the infection doesn’t spread to your child’s kidneys.

FAQs

What causes urinary tract infections?

Germs, usually E. coli, travel into the urinary tract and multiply, causing infection.

Which part of the urinary tract is affected in urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections can affect any part of the urinary tract. When they affect the urethra, the tube in which urine flows out of the body, they’re called urethritis. When they affect the bladder, which stores urine, they’re called cystitis. And when they affect the kidneys, they’re called pyelonephritis.

What part of the urinary tract is most often infected in children?

Urinary tract infections in children most commonly affect the bladder.

What are the symptoms I should look for in my child?

Your child may complain of pain, burning, or difficulty with urination; frequent urination; urgency to urinate; or urinating only small amounts. Other symptoms may include hematuria (blood in the urine), incontinence, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, fatigue, poor appetite, pain in the lower back or lower pelvis or above the pubic bone.

What are the signs that an infection may have reached the kidneys?

Signs of a more serious infection include chills and shaking, high fever, nausea, vomiting, severe pain in the belly, side, or back, and flushed, warm, or red skin.

How are urinary tract infections diagnosed?

Your child’s doctor will make a diagnosis of urinary tract infection through a review of symptoms, a physical examination, a microscopic examination of a urine sample, and other urine tests.

How are urinary tract infections treated?

Most likely your child’s doctor will prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection, and medication to control pain.

How can I help prevent my child from getting urinary tract infections?

Some cases of infection can be prevented by discouraging your children from taking bubble baths. Girls may help prevent infections by avoiding wearing tight-fitting pants. Girls should also be instructed to wipe from front to back, rather than back to front, after using the bathroom. Wiping back to front can transfer bacteria from the anus to the urethra. It may also be helpful to encourage them to urinate frequently and to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.

Do boys get urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections are more common in girls, but they can occur in boys, particularly in those who have not been circumcised.

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