Urinary tract infections in children
Urinary tract infections are much less common in children than in adults. However, it is estimated that 3% of girls and 1% of boys are victims. Some children, more often girls, get urinary tract infections simply because they are more prone to them, just as some children more often have colds, flu or ear infections.
It is essential to quickly identify and treat a urinary tract infection in a child, as it can cause serious kidney problems if left untreated. In slightly older children, symptoms are observed such as a frequent and urgent need to urinate, and a burning sensation when urinating. However, in infants and very young children, the signs of a urinary tract infection are not always obvious.
Fever, irritability, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting can also be symptoms of a urinary tract infection. If a child has a fever and appears sick for more than a day with no signs of runny nose or other obvious cause of illness, it would be recommended to see a doctor to check if they do not have a urinary tract infection.
Repeated urinary tract infections can damage the kidneys in both children and adults. Urinary tract infections, especially in young children; could lead to kidney damage, poor kidney development, poor kidney function and hypertension.
What to do
The only way to know if a child has a urinary tract infection is to see a doctor. The child’s urine will be collected to be examined under a microscope and subjected to a bacterial culture to determine whether or not the child has a urinary tract infection. Many children who suffer from urinary tract infections have a normal bladder and kidneys. However, if a child has an abnormality, it is important to diagnose it as early as possible to protect the kidneys and prevent them from being damaged.
Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic and the duration of treatment depend on the severity and location of the infection. After a few doses of antibiotic, the child should already feel better. During this time, it often takes several days before the infection completely disappears and all symptoms have subsided.
Under no circumstances should you stop taking the prescribed medications even if the symptoms are decreasing. By not completing treatment, infections could return and bacteria could develop resistance to antibiotics.
Consult a doctor if the following symptoms occur:
- Low fever
- Frequent need to urinate
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Strong smell of urine
- Cloudy or blood-stained urine
- Abdominal pain
Consult the doctor promptly if:
- High fever, back pain, vomiting
Source: Montreal Children’s Hospital