Symptoms Of A Kidney Infection And Signs Of A Bladder Infection In Kids
I receive a lot of urgent texts and emails from friends each week with frantic questions about their kids’ health. This AM the email was from a good friend who’s daughter was having pain on urination, red-tinged urine and back and abdominal pain. These symptoms can be caused by several different illnesses. Many parents worry about appendicitis for example. But in this case, it was relatively obvious the culprit was a urinary infection, one that had spread from the bladder to the kidneys (pyelonephritis).
Urinary tract infections are incredibly common in kids, especially if you have an infant in diapers or older child that holds in their urine for long periods of time (such as at school). This is especially true in a constipated toddler.
Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enters the urethra, and multiplies in the bladder. The infection can keep moving upward into the kidneys, which usually causes more significant symptoms.
A urine tract infection is more common in girls than boys due to the short distance between the urethra and anus in girls. Children still in diapers are also more at risk.
Signs of a bladder infection
- Pain on urination
- Feeling a sudden urge to pee
- Peeing more frequently
- Having blood in the urine
- Having more peeing accidents
- Abdominal pain
- Foul smelling urine
Symptoms of a kidney infection
- As above, plus flank or back pain
- More likely to have fever
- Aches and pains
- Chills and shaking episodes (rigors)
Urinary tract infection diagnosis
Your child will be asked to either void in a sterile container, or a bag may be applied to the genitals to collect urine. This is less accurate as the skin also harbors bacteria, which can contaminate the sample.
Small babies may have a urine sample collected with a catheter, or less commonly through a needle entering the abdomen outside the bladder (suprapubic catheterization).
Urinary tract infection treatment
Most UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics given for 5-10 days. Severe infections such as pyelonephritis, or infections in very young babies, may be treated with intravenous antibiotics for a brief time, which will be switched to oral antibiotics when the infection improves.
Children that have recurrent infections may require prophylactic antibiotics to prevent further infections while investigations are completed. Some children have vesico-ureteric reflux, where the urine splashes up from the bladder to the ureters and sometimes into the kidneys. This can cause damage over time to the kidneys. To investigate this your doctor may order a kidney ultrasound and a test called a VCUG to see if urine is moving upward.
Urinary tract infection prevention
- Teach your child good toilet hygiene, wiping from front to back and help clean the genitalia as often as necessary after toileting and in the bath
- Encourage your child to void when the urge arises. Delaying the emptying of the bladder can lead to infections in some
- Treat constipation, which can block the flow of urine out of the bladder when stool is compressing it.
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