Peeing Pain? Signs Of A Bladder Infection In Children
Urinary tract (bladder or kidney) infections (UTIs) are very common in kids. They are especially prevalent in young children who are still in diapers. This is especially true in children with constipation. These kids may be unable to fully empty their bladder, leading to infection.
What is a urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infections are infections anywhere along the urinary tract – the kidneys (pyelonephritis), ureters, bladder (cystitis) and urethra. Usually infections are in the bladder and kidneys.
Bacteria living in the stool that enters the urethra and ascends to the bladder cause most urinary tract infections.
The most prevalent bacteria is Escherichia coli (E. coli), though many other types of bacteria can lead to infection. Bacteria living in the stool that enters the urethra and ascends to the bladder cause most urinary tract infections.
Who is at increased risk?
Girls tend to get more UTIs than boys as they have shorter urethras and the urethra is more open to stool contamination than boys. Kids with genitourinary abnormalities are more at risk as well.
Many kids with UTIs can present with fever with no obvious cause.
What does a UTI look like?
Many kids with UTIs can present with fever with no obvious cause. For this reason your doctor may test your child for UTI if the absence of obvious UTI symptoms.
Signs of a bladder infection:
- Pain on voiding (dysuria)
- Abdominal pain or lower back pain
- Constant urge to urinate, or increased frequency in voiding
- Foul smelling urine
- Cloudy urine
A sample of the middle part of the urine stream (mid-stream urine) may be obtained from a toilet-trained child. Younger children who are not toilet trained may require a catheter sample.
How do we test for UTI?
A sample of the middle part of the urine stream (mid-stream urine) may be obtained from a toilet-trained child. Younger children who are not toilet trained may require a catheter sample. Some doctors collect samples via a bag that is stuck to the skin. This method is the most likely to contain contaminant bacteria from the skin and may not be accurate.
Urinary tract infection treatment
UTIs are treated with oral antibiotics. Very young infants or sick children may require intravenous therapy for a few days before switching to oral antibiotics.
Is special testing required?
Children with recurrent UTIs may benefit from ultrasound imaging to ensure the kidneys look normal and symmetric. A test called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) may be done to ensure there is no backward flow of urine (vesico-ureteric reflux) that can predispose to infections and kidney scarring. Your doctor will discuss the necessity of these tests with you.
How to prevent UTIs
- Toilet trained kids should avoid holding their urine in. Urine that stays in the bladder can lead to bacterial growth
- Ensure your child is not constipated. Read strategies to managing constipation.
Read more about how to treat a fever.
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