How to tell if your child has a urinary tract infection

September 14, 2023

UTIs In Children

Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are a common problem in children, but it is often hard to know if your child has one or not, especially if you have a younger infant.

If you have ever had a urinary tract infection yourself then you know how painful and uncomfortable they can be. The symptoms of a UTI in younger children and babies differ from those of an adult. It’s important that parents are aware of the signs so they can seek medical advice as soon as possible to prevent further complications from occurring such as kidney scarring and more serious kidney infections.

This article explains what UTI’s are, what causes them, how to treat them at home and the most common symptoms that may indicate your child has contracted one.

A child hugging their parent whilst looking into the camera

What causes a urinary tract infection in a child?

Urinary tract infections in children are usually due to bacterial infection. The bacteria that cause UTIs most frequently, such as E. Coli, are those that are found in the gastrointestinal system.

Bacteria can enter through their urethra (where urine flows out). Girls have more susceptibility to UTIs because they have shorter urethras than boys do, making it easier for bacteria to enter their bladders.

How to tell if your child has a urinary tract infection: Symptoms and signs to watch out for.

  1. They cry or seem to be experiencing pain when peeing.
  2. Urine that looks cloudy or has blood in it.
  3. A high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery.
  4. They appear generally unwell – babies may be irritable and not feed properly.
  5. Toilet trained children may start wetting the bed or wetting themselves.
  6. Lower tummy pain or being sick.
  7. Children of talking age may complain of burning or stinging when peeing.
  8. Pain in the lower back or sides with a fever may indicate a more serious kidney infection.

If your child has symptoms of a UTI, you should take them to see your paediatrician.

When should I seek medical advice?

If you think that your child has a urinary tract infection, talk to your paediatrician about how you should treat it right away so that it doesn’t get any worse.

Doctors will diagnose your child by testing a urine sample, initially with a dip test and also a bacterial culture if necessary. In young babies and children still in nappies, collecting a urine sample can be a challenge and requires patience to catch a wee in a sterile pot with the nappy off.

Your paediatrician may need to prescribe antibiotics to treat a UTI and very young infants may require treatment in hospital.

How can I make my child feel comfortable at home?

Make sure they rest and drink enough fluids. Passing urine frequently can help clear the infection too.

To make your child more comfortable at home, you can give them regular pain relief with liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the medicine label for dosing instructions.

It’s important for parents to know the symptoms and signs of a UTI and take their child to see a doctor as soon as possible if they suspect something might be wrong.

If you have any concerns, please contact us at Childhealthy and arrange an appointment for one of our paediatricians to examine your child and provide you with the necessary advice and reassurance.


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