Skip to main content

Urinary tract infection in children

What is it?

  • A urinary (yer-in-air-e) tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, or urethra (u-ree-thruh). When the infection is only in the bladder, it is called cystitis (sis-ti-tis). When the infection gets into the kidneys, it is called pyelonephritis (pie-ell-o-neff-ri-tiss). Urinary tract infections are more common in girls. Your child may get a UTI more than once. Some children with UTIs do not have symptoms. If a UTI is not treated for months or years, the infection could hurt the kidneys.
  • The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that remove unwanted chemicals and waste from the blood. These wastes are turned into urine by the kidneys. The kidneys are attached to the bladder by little tubes called ureters (yer-ih-ters). Urine travels down the ureters and into the bladder. The bladder is a hollow organ that holds urine. When you are ready to urinate, it travels through the urethra (a small tube) and out of the body.

Causes:

Germs called bacteria (bak-teer-e-uh) cause UTIs. These germs usually enter the urethra and travel up the urinary tract. The bacteria can then infect the urethra, bladder, or kidneys. Your child may get a UTI if he does not pass urine when feeling the need. If your child is a girl, she could get a UTI if she wipes her bottom from back to front. Wiping this way, especially after a BM, can spread germs to the urinary tract opening. Something blocking a tube in the urinary tract can also cause UTIs.

Signs and Symptoms:

A UTI usually will cause your child to feel the need to pass urine often. Your child may have burning when passing urine (urinating). He may pass little or no urine. Your child may also dribble or leak urine or pass urine while sleeping. He may have smelly urine or urine that is pink or red (bloody urine). Your child may also have a fever or mid-back or side pain. Or your child may have an upset stomach (nausea) or throw up (vomit).

Wellness Recommendations:

Your child should drink lots of water (one cup or more for each 15 pounds of body weight) and urinate often. Taking showers rather than baths may also help to prevent a UTI.

Medical Care:

Your child's urine will be tested for bacteria. He/she may need antibiotic medicine to kill the bacteria. Acetaminophen may be used if your child has a fever. Your child should drink plenty of liquids to keep the urine clear or a light yellow color. If the infection is bad, your child may be put in the hospital. Your child may need more tests if he has many UTIs to be sure there is not a serious problem.

Dietary Measures:

  • Decrease the sugar in your child's diet. His ability to fight an infection may improve if he eats less sugar. Soda pop contains much sugar. If your child drinks soda pop, he should drink no more than one can a day.

Herbals and Supplements

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Please check with your caregiver before giving ANY herbs or supplements to your child.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your child's symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat your child's UTI.
      • Your child's symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • Your child has any vomiting.
      • Your child's urine looks bloody or brownish.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

    SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

    • Your child passes little to no urine.
    • Your child gets pain in the back or side.
    • Your child is acting very sick or has shaking chills.
    • Your child has trouble thinking clearly.

    Care Agreement:

    You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat your child. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

    References:

    1. Adatto K, Doebele KG & Galland L: Behavioral factors and urinary tract infection. JAMA 1979; 241(23):2525-6.

    1. Avorn J, Monane M, Gurwitz JH et al: Reduction of bacteriuria and pyuria after ingestion of cranberry juice. JAMA 1994; 271(10):751-754.

    3. Foxman B & Chi JW: Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. J Clin Epidemiol 1990; 43(4):329-337.

    4. Kjeldsen-Kragh J, Kvaavik E, Bottolfs M et al: Inhibition of growth of Proteus mirabilis and Escherichia coli in urine in response to fasting and vegetarian diet. APMIS 1995; 103(11):818-822.

    5. Larsson B, Jonasson A & Pianu S: Prophylactic effect of UVA E in women with recurrent cystitis: a preliminary report. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 1993; 53(4):441-443.

    6. Walker EB, Barney DP, Mickelsen JN et al: Cranberry concentrate: UTI prophylaxis (letter). J Fam Pract 1997; 45(2):167-168.


    Last Updated: 4/4/2014

    Copyright © 1984- Thomson Micromedex. All rights reserved.

    Thomson & A.D.A.M