Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection along the urinary tract. It may involve the urethra, the bladder or the kidneys. Normal urine is sterile and contains fluids, salts and waste products and it should be free from bacteria, viruses and fungi. An infection occurs when bacteria cling to the urethra and travel upwards towards the bladder, where they multiply quickly. Most infections are caused by an organism known as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is normally found in the colon.
Why come to Children's Hospital Colorado for treatment of this condition?
The professionals at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado are dedicated to caring for kids. The members of the urology team are experts in pediatric urologic conditions and our surgeons are specialized in both pediatrics and urology. We strive to help patients and families feel educated about their condition, prepared for treatment and fully cared for by our urology team.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms of a UTI vary depending on the age of the child and may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child’s provider for a diagnosis.
Symptoms in infants and young children:
- Abdominal pain; colic
- Foul-smelling urine
- Poor growth, weight loss, or failure to gain weight
- Poor feeding
Symptoms in older children:
- Frequent urination
- Urgency to urinate
- Painful urination
- Inability to void more than a small amount, even with feeling of urgency
- Foul-smelling urine
- Incontinence day or night
- Blood in the urine
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain in the back, side, or at pubic bone
How do you diagnose urinary tract infection?
Diagnosis of urinary tract infection is based on a history of symptoms, a physical examination and other studies including urine analysis and urine culture. Children with a confirmed diagnosis may require additional studies of the bladder and kidneys including a renal ultrasound (RUS) and/or a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG), which is an x-ray examination of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
How is it treated?
Treatment of a urinary tract infection depends on the child’s age, overall health, extent of the infection and medical history. Treatment may include antibiotics, increased fluid intake and pain relief methods.
Who gets it, and can it be prevented?
Urinary tract infections are uncommon in children who are not yet toilet trained. If this should occur in your child, it is likely that a full evaluation will be performed including radiology scans. Most infections occur in children who are working through potty training or afterwards, as they are more likely to have abnormal voiding patterns or trouble with hygiene. Infections are also more likely in females because females have a shorter urethra that is more susceptible to ascending bacteria. Males who are uncircumcised have a higher rate of UTI. Children with a blockage of the urinary tract are also more likely to develop infections.
Prevention of UTI includes ensuring your child is urinating regularly, about every 2 to 3 hours and taking the time to completely empty the bladder in a relaxed fashion. Teach your child to wipe their bottom from front to back. If your child is uncircumcised, teach him to retract the foreskin and clean himself. The foreskin should retract easily, if not, do not forcibly retract. Do not allow the foreskin to stay retracted for long periods, as this may cause pain and possible injury.
When should I seek medical attention?
If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, see your provider. If your child has had recurrent UTIs, please have your child evaluated in the Children’s Urology clinic.