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Frequently Asked Questions about Urinary Tract Infections in Kids

January 15, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions about Urinary Tract Infections in KidsUrinary tract infections, or UTIs, aren’t illnesses we tend to associate with kids, but they happen often. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, every year 3 out of 100 kids will get a UTI. As a parent, knowledge is the first step toward keeping your kids healthier, and our pediatric nurse practitioner and board-certified pediatricians are here to help by answering your questions about UTIs in kids.

What causes urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria gets into the urethra, bladder, or other parts of the urinary tract and creates an infection. There are a number of ways this can happen, but the most common cause is E. coli from the digestive tract. In other cases, holding urine too long or an inability to properly and fully empty the bladder can lead to a UTI. Girls are at a much higher risk of urinary tract infections – in fact, they’re very uncommon for boys who are over 1 year of age, even uncircumcised boys who are more likely to have a UTI than circumcised boys. In some cases, infants who get a UTI may be recommended for further evaluation to determine if they have anatomical abnormalities or urinary reflux.

Why are urinary tract infections common in kids?

With so many types of bacteria in the stool, it’s easy to understand how babies in diapers can get pediatric urinary tract infections. In older, toilet-trained kids, it often happens because they’re not wiping properly after using the restroom. Kids also tend to put off going to the bathroom when they don’t want to stop playing, which can cause a UTI.

How do I know if my child has a urinary tract infection?

As adults, we typically recognize a UTI because of the burning during urination, but kids may not tell you if this is happening. Here are some other symptoms to look for as well:

  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Frequent rushing to the bathroom but passing little or no urine
  • Unusual bedwetting
  • Red, pink, or cloudy urine

How are urinary tract infections treated in kids?

Urinary tract infections in kids, as with adults, are usually treated with oral antibiotics. In severe cases, it may need to be treated in a hospital with intravenous antibiotics instead. You can also help the healing process by having your child drink plenty of water. As simple as the treatment may sound, it’s crucial to schedule a pediatrician appointment and get treatment for your child’s UTI as soon as you can. If left untreated, a UTI can spread to the bladder, the ureters, and the kidneys, which can lead to permanent kidney damage and high blood pressure.

How can I protect my kids from urinary tract infections?

You may not be able to prevent them 100%, but there are ways to lower your kids’ risk for urinary tract infections:

  • If you have kids in diapers, change their diapers promptly.
  • Explain to your kids that they shouldn’t put off using the restroom.
  • Make sure your kids drink plenty of water to keep their urinary system active and healthy.
  • Teach your toilet-trained kids to wipe from front to back (not back to front) when they use the restroom.
  • When giving your kids a bath, avoid using bubble bath or other potentially irritating products.
  • When your daughter gets her period, explain to her that it’s important to change her pads and tampons frequently.
  • If your kids go swimming or if their underwear gets wet, change them into dry clothes promptly.
  • Make sure your kids don’t wear overly tight clothing.
  • If your kids are constipated or have trouble emptying their bladder (or are experiencing other related problems), get treatment for them as early as possible.

We understand how overwhelming it can be to try to learn everything about your child’s health. That’s why we post these blogs – to break down the information you actually need in a convenient, easy-to-reference guide. If you think your child may have a urinary tract infection, schedule an appointment with us. For more kids’ health tips, follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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