Urinary Tract Infections in Children

September 29, 2019
Urinary tract infections can be serious and lead to other conditions or diseases. For this reason, it is essential to understand the symptoms and see a doctor as soon as they appear.

Urinary tract infections in children are quite common. Typically, these infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, bladder, and/or kidneys. It’s necessary to see a doctor to start treatment as soon as possible if symptoms are present.

This article describes exactly what urinary tract infections are and how they are treated.

Urinary Tract Infections in Children

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) come from the presence or proliferation of microorganisms in the urinary organs. However, a urinary infection without symptoms is a different type of infection called asymptomatic bacteriuria.

Overall, UTIs are distinguished by where the infection is located.

The most common bacteria that develop into urinary tract infections in children are Proteus, Klebsiella, Enterobacteria, Streptococci, and Staphylococci. In newborns, they also frequently occur due to Listeria monocytogenes and Enterococcus, among others.

Unfortunately, UTIs are frequent in children and can be re-occurring. In fact, they may develop long-term complications. Therefore, it’s very important to see a pediatrician and start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the UTI from developing into something more serious or long-lasting.

Read more: 6 Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections

UTI symptoms

Baby urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infection symptoms include fever, general discomfort, and frequent urination.

Typically, UTI symptoms vary depending on the age of the child. In fact, it is more difficult to detect the symptoms in newborns or children under six months. However, common symptoms include fever (usually higher than 37 ° C) and painful urination.

Overall, here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Pain, itching, or burning when urinating
  • Fever
  • Pain in the bladder area
  • Smelly, cloudy urine that may even contain blood
  • Irritability and vomiting
  • General discomfort and chills
  • A constant need to urinate, even when there is only a small amount of urine.

However, in the case of acute pyelomelitis – or when the infection reaches the kidneys – the symptoms are usually more severe. For example, there may be severe cases of fever, fatigue, inability to eat, and vomiting.

Complications

Also, urinary tract infections pose some risks and have some potential complications. Some include:

  • Urinary tract problems (for example, obstructions of the tract or urethra)
  • Kidney malformations or complications
  • Vesicoureteral reflux, which is a disorder that causes urine to flow to the kidneys and ureters.

Discover: 6 Remedies to Combat Cold Sores in Children

How do doctors diagnose a urinary tract infection in children?

The doctor will conduct a physical examination and will also perform a urine analysis or urine culture. In general, the analysis will allow the specialist to determine the type of infection and choose the best treatment.

How the doctor decides to collect the urine for the analysis will depend on the child’s age. In older children, the doctor will simply ask the child to urinate in a sterilized container. However, for younger children who still wear diapers, doctors will usually use a catheter to obtain the sample.

How are urinary tract infections in children treated?

Bacteria test
After the diagnosis, the doctor will decide on the most effective antibiotic treatment for the child.

UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, the doctor may request a new urine test after completing the treatment to confirm that the infection has completely been eradicated. This ensures that the infection will not present itself again or spread to other parts of the body.

In the most severe cases of UTIs, the child may require hospitalization. This is especially if he or she is less than six months old if the infection has affected the kidney, or the child is dehydrated.

Recommendations for parents

  • When the first symptoms appear, the child should immediately see a doctor for the proper diagnosis.
  • After being diagnosed, follow the doctor’s instructions and recommendations and administer the antibiotics according to the doctor’s advice.
  • Keep track of the frequency with which the child urinates. If the are old enough to talk, ask them how they feel and if they feel any pain when urinating.
  • Have the child drink lots of water. Avoid allowing them to drink soda, teas, or other drinks. They must be well hydrated to help flush the infection from their system.
  • Regarding prevention, for children who still wear diapers, make sure to change them frequently to help keep the child’s urinary tract hygienic and clean.
  • In older children who already go to the bathroom by themselves, make sure to educate them on the proper hygiene rules and habits. For example, we should teach girls to always clean themselves from front to back, so bacteria from the rectal area does not enter the urethra.
  • Also, choose cotton underwear and avoid synthetic materials that make perspiration difficult.

In conclusion, urinary tract infections are usually mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Nevertheless, if you have any questions, you should always consult your pediatrician for the best option or advice. Also, remember to instill good hygiene habits in children early.

  • C. Rodrigo Gonzalo de Liria, M. Méndez Hernández, M. Azuara Robles, “Infección urinaria”, Protocolos diagnóstico-terapéuticos de la AEP: Infectología pediátrica, Asociación Española de Pediatría. https://www.aeped.es/sites/default/files/documentos/itu.pdf
  • Felipe Cavagnaro S.M., “Infección urinaria en la infancia”, Rev. chil. infectol. v.22 n.2 Santiago jun. 2005. http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-10182005000200007
  • Paulina Salas del C. et al. “Actualización en el diagnóstico y manejo de la infección urinaria en pediatría”, Rev Chil Pediatr 2012; 83 (3): 269-278.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0370-41062012000300009