About urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) happen when bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra, get into urine and then grow in the bladder.

UTIs are common in children, especially among girls.

UTIs are more likely in children who have bladder problems like urinary incontinence.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in children and teenagers

Symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in children and teenagers include:

  • pain or stinging when urinating
  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • urinating only a little bit, but often
  • wetting accidents
  • difficulty getting urine to start flowing
  • pink, red or brown urine, or blood in urine.

Your child might also have a fever or stomach pain.

UTIs in babies and toddlers are different from UTIs in older children. In babies and toddlers, symptoms of urinary tract infection include fever, irritability and poor feeding.

Does your child need to see a doctor about a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Yes. Your child should see the GP if he has any of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

If your child has pink, red or brown urine or has a high, unexplained fever and is generally unwell, you should take your child to the GP straight away.

Tests for urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Doctors can’t diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) just on your child’s symptoms. They need to test your child’s urine as well, usually before your child starts taking antibiotics.

If your child has had a lot of UTIs, or the UTIs have been unusual in some way, your GP might recommend an ultrasound to look at your child’s urinary tract, including his kidneys and bladder.

The GP might also refer your child to a paediatrician, urologist or renal physician – that is, a doctor who specialises in kidney problems.

Treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Your child will probably need to take a short course of antibiotic tablets or liquid.

Your doctor will check your child’s urine again after you child has finished the course of antibiotics, to make sure the infection has cleared up.

Preventing urinary traction infections (UTIs)

Here are some things you can do at home to help your child avoid urinary tract infections (UTIs):

  • Make sure your child always drinks plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Encourage your child to urinate regularly, including before every meal or snack and before bed.
  • Get a toilet step for your daughter, so her feet are supported until she can reach the floor. This relaxes her pelvic floor and stomach muscles and helps her to empty her bladder completely.
  • Discourage your child from straining or trying to ‘push’ urine out. This is especially important for girls.
  • Teach your daughter to wipe from front to back after weeing or pooing, so she doesn’t spread bacteria forward from her anus.
  • See your GP if your child has constipation or hard poo – these are risk factors for UTIs.
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