Kids are still growing so they can’t always express how they are feeling. Toddlers can express their signs of discomfort in some way but it is not the case with newborns and children until they are 3 years old. So it is very important for the parents to look after the symptoms of illness in kids and seek medical help immediately to prevent further complications.
Among the pediatric infections, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is one of the most common conditions. It makes the child irritable and may cause permanent kidney damage. During the first year, the chances of getting UTI in kids are higher and markedly decrease after that. So, if infants younger than 2 months show the symptoms of fever which is not caused by any known illness; should always include the evaluation for UTI. Let us get a detailed idea about Urinary Tract Infections in children.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that can affect any part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, urethra, tubes and bladder. When the bacteria are not expelled out of the urethra, they may grow within the urinary tract and causes an infection.
What causes a Urinary Tract Infection?
Generally, there are no bacteria in the urinary tract. But there are some things which make it easier for bacteria to enter or stay in the urinary tract and cause an infection. The reasons which might cause a urinary tract infection include:
- → A urinary tract problem which is most often present at birth, called vesicoureteral reflux causes UTI. In this condition, the urine flows backward from the bladder into the ureters and kidneys.
- → Using bubbles in baths and tight-fitting clothes.
- → Birth defects or changes in the structure of the urinary tract.
- → Disorders of the brain or nervous system that make it harder to empty the bladder.
- → Delaying urination for long periods of time.
- → Poor toilet and hygiene habits
What are the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection?
Babies and young children may not have the common symptoms such as pain or burning while they urinate. Even if they have pain, they can’t tell about what they feel. So, parents should pay attention if they observe following symptoms which may indicate a urinary tract infection.
- → A fever that is not caused by flu or known illness.
- → Urine that has a strange smell.
- → Vomiting
- → Poor appetite
- → Fussy child
The common symptoms seen in older children include:
- → Pain or stinging or burning while urinating
- → Frequent urination
- → Loss of bladder control
- → Blood in the urine
- → Cloudy and foul-smelling urine.
- → Pressure or pain in the lower pelvis or lower back
How is Urinary Tract Infection diagnosed?
To examine whether a child has a UTI, his /her urine sample is need to be diagnosed. Apart from this, imaging tests such as kidney ultrasound or an X-ray is taken while the child is urinating may be done to find the cause of the infection. With the help of these tests, the kidney damage can also be checked.
How is Urinary Tract Infection treated?
Most of the UTIs are treated by prescribing antibiotics in liquid or chewable form for up to two weeks. The medications should be given completely until the end of prescribed course time even if the child seems to be better within a few days. If not, the bacteria causing the UTI might not be wiped out completely and the infection could come back stronger. If your child is unable to eat or drink, he/she need to be hospitalized to take the medicine intravenously.
If doctors spot any problem in the kidney ultrasound or X-ray such as compromised kidney function, the child should be taken to a Pediatric Nephrologist. Similarly, if congenital abnormalities (birth defects) such as vesicoureteral reflux; a pediatric urologic surgeon should help to guide the child’s evaluation and management.
How can Urinary Tract Infections be prevented?
Though we can’t prevent the UTIs that are caused because of birth defects, we can minimize the risk of infections which occur due to other causes. Some of the tips which help us to prevent UTIs in children include:
- → Offering plenty of fluids to kids which make them urinate more frequently, flushing out the bacteria from urinary tract before an infection can begin.
- → Teach your children proper hygiene for maintaining a clean genital area.
- → Avoid bubble baths and harsh soaps especially if your child is girl, which can irritate her genitals
- → Offer your child a healthy diet which can prevent constipation.
Urinary tract infections have common symptoms such as vomiting, fever, poor appetite similar to other health conditions which make parents not to think particularly about UTIs. So, it is necessary for parents to pay attention to the abnormal symptoms in children; especially who are aged below 3 years. If the child has a UTI, it is highly suggested to take preventive measures and diagnose for UTIs if any of the listed symptoms are observed; as frequent UTIs may lead to kidney damage.