Young children are more prone to urinary tract infections. A Urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enter into your bladder through urine. If the bacteria reach higher into the upper urinary system (the ureters and kidneys), the child may experience kidney infection which is more fatal and requires immediate treatment. Though it is mostly believed UTI is common in adults, reports show up to 8% of girls and 2% of boys suffer from UTI by the age of five. Kidney infection in toddlers is a serious issue as there is a greater chance of kidney damage compared to kidney infection in older children or adults.
Urinary tract and its function -
The urinary tract is the drainage system of the body that removes urine. It inṣcludes a pair of kidneys, a bladder, two ureters, and a urethra. All these organs work together for the body to have normal urination. Urine forms in the kidneys and goes down to the bladder through the ureters that join them. The urine is stored in the bladder until it is removed through the urethra.
Normal urine flows uni-directional to the urethra and has no bacteria. Bacteria enter through the urethra and travel up to the bladder through urine.
Symptoms of UTI in children -
Children suffering from UTI can often complain about pain in the lower abdomen, need frequent urination, or experience pain while urinating. Toddlers or children too young to express, suffering from UTI may experience high fever, refuse to eat, or show irritableness. They may even wet their beds more often. Urine infection in infants can be identified with foul-smelling urine or loose stool. The linings of the bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys become red and swollen due to UTI.
Kidney infection in kids must be treated immediately as there is a possibility of the bacteria entering the bloodstream and causing a threat to life.
Some symptoms of urinary tract infections in children are,
1. Burning and stinging feelings are experienced by urinating.
2. Frequent urination or experiencing a sudden urge to urinate without passing urine.
3. Foul-smelling urine or traces of blood in the urine.
5. Pain in the lower abdomen or lower back.
Infection can occur at any part of the urinary tract -
• Kidneys (Acute pyelonephritis) - Children suffering from kidney infection may experience symptoms such as high fever, nausea, and vomiting, upper back, and side (flank) pain.
• Bladder (cystitis) - symptoms such as blood in urine, lower abdomen discomfort, pelvic pressure, and frequent and painful urination are common in case of a bladder infection.
• Urethra (urethritis) - Children with urethra infection may experience discharge and burning sensation while urinating.
Causes of a urinary tract infection in a child -
The urine has no bacteria in it and is sterile. Bacteria are present on the outer skin and in the rectal area and stools. When the bacteria enter the urethra through urine and the body fails to remove them, the child or the person suffers from a urinary tract infection. UTIs are of two types - kidney infection and bladder infection. In the case of a bladder infection (also known as cystitis), the child may experience pain in the bladder. Kidney infection in children occurs when the bacteria travels up to the kidney from the bladder through the ureters. It is a serious infection and can harm the kidney of small children.
Prevention of UTI -
Following certain habits can prevent infection in kids,
1. Urinating at regular intervals is one of the body’s best defenses against UTI. Make sure your child doesn’t hold in their urine for a longer time.
2. Drinking enough water or fluids can increase the formation of urine and help in flushing out the infection out of the body.
3. If your child is more prone to UTI, a low dose of antibiotics can help to prevent the infection.
4. Sometimes, the treatment of constipation also helps in preventing UTI.
5. If you have an infant, change her diapers more frequently.
6. Teach your children about good bathroom habits.
The diagnosis of UTI can be done by a urine test. Therefore, contact a health care provider who can collect a urine sample of your child.
The most effective treatment for urinary tract infection is anti-biotics. The anti-biotics will be provided by the doctor after the test. The drug treats the bacteria causing infection in your kid. Along with the medication, parents must support their child’s health by making them drink plenty of water or fluids and making them urinating often. The medication will continue for several days depending upon the severity of the infection. If you find that there is no improvement in your child’s health after medication, take your child to a good hospital.
Kidney infection in kids requires several tests even after the treatment.
The tests include:
• Kidney and Bladder ultrasonography - The test uses sound waves to take pictures of the kidney and bladder. If there are any shadows or dark spots, it indicates some kind of abnormality or blockages.
• Voiding Cystourethrogram - The test shows if the flow of urine is normal or not, it can also detect any abnormalities in the urethra and bladder. Urine flows from the bladder to the urethra but due to certain abnormalities, it can flow in the reverse direction back to the kidney. The test can detect such issues in the urinary tract.
• Nuclear Scan - Scans can provide different kinds of information about the infection, using a liquid with a tiny amount of radioactive tracer in it. The test gives the overall status of the functioning of the kidney. The radioactive substance present in the liquid is of adequate amount, it won’t compromise the health of your child.
Urinary tract infection gets cured with a week if proper medication and treatment are provided to the child. Do not discontinue the doses even if the symptoms begin to fade away, stick to the prescription provided by your health care provider. The infection can return so even after your child is cured, make sure they drink plenty of water and maintain a good bathroom habit.