Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) In Kids: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) In Kids: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Small children catch infections and fall ill fairly frequently. Most of the time it is the daily common cold, cough or flu. Sometimes, it might be something more serious but easily treatable like a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). In this article, we will learn about UTI in kids.

Almost all UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the opening of the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder out of the body) and move upward to the urinary bladder and sometimes the kidneys. UTIs are more common in girls than boys as a girl’s urethra is smaller and closer to the anus than a boy’s. UTIs afflict about 8% of girls vs only about 2% of boys.

Also read: Urinary Tract Infection: Causes & Symptoms

Causes Of UTI In Kids

UTI in children is caused when any part of the Urinary Tract or the kidneys get infected by bacteria. This infection can happen when:

  • Bacteria from the anus enters the urinary tract. This can happen because of wiping from back to front after going to the bathroom.
  • Holding in urine or not urinating often enough during the day.
    Wearing tight-fitting underwear or pants, or synthetic inner-wear.
    Vesicoureteral reflux: Sometimes children could have a defect in the urinary tract called Vesicoureteral reflux at birth. This defect causes the urine to flow back to the kidneys from the bladder (this should never happen). Due to this defect, the kidneys get damaged or infected over time.
  • A family history of UTIs.

Symptoms Of UTI In Kids

In children below the age of 3, the symptoms of UTI may not be apparent. A very young child might also not be able to explain what he is feeling so the doctors might not be able to accurately diagnose a UTI. In such cases, a Urine test can accurately confirm if the child has UTI. Young children who have UTI could also show these symptoms:

  • Fever, which is a sign of infection
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Poor appetite, inability to gain weight

Older children who are able to communicate might also show the below symptoms:

  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Discomfort and burning sensation while urinating
  • Unpleasant smelling urine
  • Pain in the tummy or the lower sides while urinating

Also read: Urinary Tract Infection: A Helpful Guide

Treatment Of UTI In Kids

UTIs are not infections which will go away with time or home remedies. They require treatment with antibiotics and are fairly easily treatable. If you suspect your child has UTI, immediately consult a doctor and complete the course of antibiotics as recommended by the doctor. Do not stop the medication mid-way if you think the infection has cleared.

Hospitalization may be required in case the UTI is more serious and kidney infection is suspected. This might happen when:

  • The child is younger than 6 months of age.
  • The child looks very ill or has a high fever.
  • The bacterial infection has spread from the Urinary Tract to the blood.
  • The child is dehydrated or vomiting and unable to eat or drink anything.

Remedies for easing the symptoms of UTI in children

Other than antibiotics, you could follow these remedies to make your child more comfortable and speed up the healing process.

  • Encourage the child to drink extra fluids like water, coconut water, and fresh fruit juices as this will help flush out the bacteria in the urinary tract or bladder.
  • Lemon water and cranberry juice are especially helpful as they help in regulating the pH of the body from acidic to alkaline.
  • Probiotic drinks or yogurt are recommended as they regulate the flora in the gut and provide resistance to the bacteria in the urinary tract.
  • Ask the child to not hold-in their urine and visit the bathroom as soon as the need arises.
  • Keep the child’s private areas clean and dry. Change soiled nappies immediately.
  • Always wipe the baby’s bottom from the front to back, to prevent the bacteria from the feces entering the urinary tract. This is especially important in the case of girls.
  • Make sure your child wears loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear only as this will keep the air circulating and keep the private parts dry. This will prevent UTIs as bacteria cannot grow in dry areas.

UTIs are fairly easy to treat if diagnosed early. If left untreated, UTI can cause kidney damage. Practicing healthy hygiene and toilet habits can help ensure that your child is healthy and does not go through the agony of a UTI.

Also read: Causes & Prevention Of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

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