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Signs and Symptoms of UTIs in Children

April 9, 2019

Source: Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care
Article By: Thomas Spurgat, MD, MBA

What is a UTI?

A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection of the urinary tract in the body. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra and the infection can spread into any of these areas.

  • Urethra: urethritis
  • Bladder: cystitis
  • Kidneys: pyelonephritis

 

How do I know if my child has a UTI?

UTIs are a very annoying illness in young children. The main symptoms are:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Stomach pain (below the belly button)
  • Fever
  • Foul smelling or cloudy urine
  • Irritability

If your child is showing these symptoms, take them to their primary care physician. There they can be tested for a UTI.

Treatment

There are a couple different ways your physician might collect urine to test your child for a UTI, depending on their age. A clean sample is essential to make sure your child is not misdiagnosed.  A child that is potty-trained can most likely urinate into a cup and then a urine dipstick test can be performed. In infants and toddlers, a catheter may be used in order to get a clean urine sample.

If the test is positive, your physician will prescribe antibiotics which your child will need to take for several days (depending on antibiotic prescribed). A culture of the urine will also be sent to make sure the correct antibiotic is being used.  It is important to have your child take the full course of antibiotics, even if they start feeling better partway through. UTIs can return if the antibiotic course is not completed.

Things to Know

Girls are more likely to get a UTI than boys because their urethra is shorter than a boys. Uncircumcised boys also have an increased risk when they are younger. Even though good hygiene may help with preventing an infection, it is not that uncommon for a child to have one infection in their early years.  More than one UTI may suggest an anatomical anomaly, so further testing is important in children with multiple infections.

UTIs are very common, and treatable with oral antibiotics if diagnosed early. If the infection spreads to the kidneys, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary.  If your child has frequent UTIs, talk to your pediatrician. Some internet articles suggest cranberry juice can help with UTIs, but most research finds that theory to be false. However, it does acidify the urine, making the antibiotic more affective.

If your child is experiencing discomfort from a UTI, make sure they are drinking extra fluids (water especially) to help dilute their urine and wash out the infection. Make sure they pee often, even if it hurts. A heating pad can help with stomach pain, and if your child is old enough, over the counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin) can be used.  Your physician may prescribe a pain reliever, pyridium (over the counter for adults), along with antibiotics if your child is in a lot of pain. This medicine will turn their urine orange.


Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care has 12 locations in Texas. We are open from 9am–9pm Mon.-Fri., 9am-6pm on Sat., and 10am-6pm on Sun. For more information, please call 210.543.7334. We welcome walk-ins, accept most insurance plans and are proud to be accredited by the Urgent Care Association!

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