Urology Blog

Pediatric Urology: Children and UTIs

Many adults, especially women, have had at least one urinary tract infection or know someone who has. This infection occurs from an overgrowth of bacteria in urine. Because the urethra, the tube through which urine passes, is shorter in women, we see more cases affecting them than men. In most cases, a UTI affects the bladder. There is a chance that the infection could affect the kidneys. Proper treatment is necessary as quickly as possible to prevent kidney infection and restore comfort. Here, we discuss what parents should know about UTIs and how to spot signs of this infection in a youngster

Symptoms of a UTI

A UTI can develop anywhere within the urinary tract. When the infection enters the bladder, it is called cystitis. Symptoms include:

  • A sensation of urinary urgency
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Incontinence during the day or bed-wetting
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine

If infection affects the kidneys (pyelonephritis), a child may develop a fever and chills, fatigue, back or side pain, or nausea and vomiting. Any signs of urinary tract infection warrant a prompt visit to the pediatrician for a full consultation and examination. 

Treating a UTI

No treatment should begin until a doctor has examined the child and run a urine test. Children who are potty trained can usually do a standard urine specimen in a sterile container. A catheter, a thin tube, may be inserted through the urethra to collect a urine specimen from non-potty-trained children. In some cases, a urologist may order imaging of the bladder or kidneys to observe structural anatomy for potential abnormalities that may be involved. In most cases, it is not anatomy that causes a UTI but bathroom habits, which can be irregular in children.

Treatment for a UTI is determined by the diagnosis, which identifies the type of bacteria in the urinary tract. A doctor prescribes antibiotics to eradicate the infection. It is imperative that parents avoid giving a child antibiotics without proper testing. The right antibiotic is needed to properly treat each case. 

Are Pediatric UTIs Preventable?

Barring any anatomical abnormalities, it is possible to reduce the risk of subsequent UTIs with a few simple steps. One is to train a child to use the bathroom frequently. Holding urine too long may allow bacteria to accumulate. Children who struggle with constipation may benefit from a fiber supplement or foods that are high in fiber, remembering that it is imperative to drink plenty of water when taking fiber. 

If your child experiences recurring urinary tract infections, they may benefit from a consultation with a board-certified urologist. To schedule a visit at one of our Chattanooga offices, contact us today.

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