Urine infection in kids, or UTI (Urinary Tract Infections), is a commonly occurring condition. If diagnosed properly and on time, it need not become a cause for concern.
Any urine infection in kids occurring more than once, however, will need to be evaluated in detail by a pediatric nephrologist. This is known as recurrent UTI.
We have had many worried parents come in with children exhibiting symptoms of a urine infection once or more. Kirti Mukherjee’s daughter (4 years old) had been running a temperature for quite a while and would complain of pain in her tummy often. She had been experiencing similar complaints when she was diagnosed with a UTI previously.
“In the first few visits with our pediatrician, no cause could be identified. This time a urine test was done immediately and when UTI was found again, our pediatrician referred us to Dr. Anunaya Katiyar, Pediatric Nephrologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital, South Delhi,” recalled Kirti.
Kirti’s daughter underwent a urine sample test after her physical examination. Later that day, the results came out positive for a UTI.
This made Kirti worry more as her daughter had had 2 episodes of UTI in last 6 months itself. Determined to stay well-informed, she decided put forth some of her queries at their following consultations with Dr. Anunaya.
How to tell if a child has UTI?
It can be difficult to suspect uti in children, especially infants, as the symptoms can be unclear.
Symptoms as vague as the following can indicate UTI in babies and newborns and warrant check up:
- Lethargy or tiredness
- Problems in feeding
- Poor weight gain
“What are the symptoms of a urine infection in a child?” further questioned Kirti.
Here are some symptoms you should keep an eye out for in children 3 years or above:
- Burning sensation or pain when peeing
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Secondary onset of bedwetting i.e. a child that had previously stopped bedwetting suddenly starts again
- Pain in abdomen, lower back or side
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes in young children (jaundice)
You should seek an expert’s advice immediately if you notice your child exhibiting these symptoms. Early diagnosis is the key to treatment for urine infection in child and prevent kidney damage.
How is recurrent urine infection in kids diagnosed?
The involvement of a pediatric nephrologist is important at this stage.
“Every child will need an evaluation depending on the age group. Their kidney function will be evaluated in the form of an ultrasound, or sometimes radiological tests such as MCU/VCUG.”
What can cause recurrent urinary tract infection in children?
A recurrent urine infection in kids can be associated with congenital anomalies of the urinary tract. Sometimes, it may be seen with constipation and poor general hygiene.
Can a UTI go away on its own?
“You are advised to get an expert’s opinion as soon as possible if your child is diagnosed with a urinary tract infection as they are not expected to go away on their own.”
“What happens if a UTI goes untreated for a week?” asked Kirti.
“An untreated infection can travel through the body and cause a more serious infection in the kidney and the body,” cautioned Dr. Anunaya.
How is urine infection treated in kids?
Naina was prescribed antibiotics in order to treat her urine infection. Since her symptoms showed signs of rapid improvement over the course of the week, she wasn’t admitted to the hospital. At her follow-up consultation, Naina looked visibly healthier.
Kirti, however, wanted to be better prepared for her child’s well being in the future and asked – “How can I treat my toddler’s UTI at home?”
When it comes to urine infection in kids, home remedies may not be helpful if implemented independently. You can, however, take some steps to nurse your child back to health using these tips:
- Make them drink plenty of liquids so that they urinate often to kick-start the healing process
- Use a heating pad on the child’s back or abdomen to help ease any pain caused due to a kidney or bladder infection
- Avoid drinks such as soft drinks or citrusy juices that can irritate the child’s bladder
Prevention of Urine Infection in Kids
1. Drinking Plenty of Fluids
Making sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids is an important step against urine infection in kids. With the increase in intake of fluids, they will experience an increased urge to urinate. This helps flush out the bacteria from the urinary tract.
2. Following Sanitary Hygiene Practices
Develop good hygiene habits in your child in order to prevent the spread of germs from the gut. When wiping the child’s bottom, teach them wiping from front to back (genitals to bottom) is the correct practice.
3. Wearing Comfortable Clothing
Keep the area around the urethra dry. Encourage the use of cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing for your child.
4. Avoid Constipation
In many cases, hard stools can become a cause for growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Ensure your child’s diet is high in fibre and vegetables in order to stimulate bowel movements and avoid constipation.
Pleased with the advice given to her, Kirti decided to implement these tips in her child’s life to prevent further infection. She left the hospital less worried about her child’s health and better informed about preventing urine infection in kids. She felt that sharing her story would help other parents in a similar situation.