The kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra organs make, store, and get rid of urine in the body. A UTI can be a bladder infection (cystitis) or kidney infection (pyelonephritis).
This infection may be caused by fungi, viruses, and bacteria. While bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs, this condition can also be caused by repeated incomplete emptying of the bladder during urination.
Your child is more likely to develop a UTI if:
- Your child ignores the need to urinate or holds in urine for long periods of time.
- Your child does not empty his or her bladder completely during urination.
- Your child is a girl and she wipes from back to front after urination or bowel movements.
- Your child is a boy and he is uncircumcised.
- Your child is an infant and he or she was born prematurely.
- Your child is constipated.
- Your child has a urinary catheter that stays in place (indwelling).
- Your child has a weak defense (immune) system.
- Your child has a medical condition that affects his or her bowels, kidneys, or bladder.
- Your child has diabetes.
- Your child has taken antibiotic medicines frequently or for long periods of time, and the antibiotics no longer work well against certain types of infections (antibiotic resistance).
- Your child engages in early-onset sexual activity.
- Your child takes certain medicines that irritate the urinary tract.
- Your child is exposed to certain chemicals that irritate the urinary tract.
- Your child is a girl.
- Your child is 4 years old or younger.
- Frequent urination or passing small amounts of urine frequently.
- Needing to urinate urgently.
- Pain or a burning sensation with urination.
- Urine that smells bad or unusual.
- Cloudy urine.
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back.
- Bed wetting.
- Trouble urinating.
- Blood in the urine.
- Vomiting or refusal to eat.
- Loose stools.
- Sleeping more often than usual.
- Being less active than usual.
- Vaginal discharge for girls.
A UTI is diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam. Your child will also need to provide a urine sample. Depending on your child’s age and whether he or she is toilet trained, urine may be collected through one of these procedures:
- Clean catch urine collection.
- Urinary catheterization with or without ultrasound assistance.
- Other tests may be done, including:
- Blood tests.
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing for adolescents.
- If your child has had more than one UTI, a cystoscopy or imaging studies may be done to determine the cause of the infections.
- Antibiotic medicine.
- Other medicines to treat less common causes of UTI.
- Over-the-counter medicines to treat pain.
- Drinking enough water to help eliminate bacteria out of the urinary tract and keep your child well-hydrated. If your child cannot do this, hydration may need to be given through an IV tube.
- Bowel and bladder training.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as directed by your child’s health care provider.
- If your child was prescribed an antibiotic medicine, give it to your child as directed by your child’s health care provider. Do not stop giving the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.
- Avoid giving your child drinks that are carbonated or contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, or soda. These beverages tend to irritate the bladder.
- Have your child drink enough fluid to keep his or her urine clear or pale yellow.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s health care provider. This is important.
- Encourage your child:
- To empty his or her bladder often and not to hold urine for long periods of time.
- To empty his or her bladder completely during urination.
- To sit on the toilet for 10 minutes after breakfast and dinner to help him or her build the habit of going to the bathroom more regularly.
- After urinating or having a bowel movement, your child should wipe from front to back. Your child should use each tissue only one time.
Contact a health care provider if:
- Your child has back pain.
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child is nauseous or vomits.
- Your child’s symptoms have not improved after you have given antibiotics for two days.
- Your child’s symptoms go away and then return.
Seek immediate treatment if:
- Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
- Your child has severe back pain or lower abdominal pain.
- Your child is difficult to wake up.
- Your child cannot keep any liquids or food down.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.