What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary system which includes the bladder, the tube leading from the bladder to the outside (urethra), the kidneys, and the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder (ureter).
Infection usually occurs when feces, which contains bacteria, gets into the urinary system.
Sometimes, a child’s unique anatomy will make him or her more likely to have a UTI. UTIs are more common in girls and children with constipation.
Symptoms of a UTI in children can include:
- Pain with urination
- Peeing more often
- Not making it to the bathroom
- Accidents in a potty trained child
- Fussiness in a preverbal child
- Stomach ache
- Pink or red urine
UTI Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose a UTI a physician needs to see symptoms of a UTI and/or a urine culture to show bacteria growing in the urine.
In pre-potty trained children the urine is collected by placing a tube through the urethra into the bladder
In potty trained children, urine can be collected in a special sterile cup after the child has been cleaned well
Since there are a number of other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, a urine culture is required to properly diagnose.
Treatment of a Confirmed UTI Includes:
- Antibiotics, which can usually be given by mouth if the child is not too ill and can take them, but may require hospital admission for IV if the child cannot take them or the infection is too far along.
- Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain
- In older children, a medication called pyridium (phazopyridine) to help relieve symptoms
- Imaging. In some cases, imaging of the bladder and kidneys might be required to evaluate if your child is structurally more likely to get a UTI
Check in with K if…
- You have general questions about your child’s condition
- You want general followup for your child
- You have questions about supportive care
- Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming
If your doctor ordered testing….
Find a testing location
Your child’s doctor either ordered your test to LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. Use the links below to find a testing site near you. While you don’t need to make an appointment, we always recommend doing so given the increase in testing happening these days.
Find a LabCorp Testing Site
Find a Quest Diagnostics Testing Site
When you go for testing please take your photo ID, your child’s insurance card and your mobile device with this conversation. Your child’s name and date of birth are enough for them to locate the order in their system.
Wait for results
A doctor will reach out to discuss your child’s results and next steps including treatment as soon as they are available. For urine tests, results will typically be available in 2-5 days.
See a doctor in person if…
- Your child is not improving with treatment
- Your child develops a high fever
- Abdominal or back pain become severe
- Your child can’t keep anything down orally
- Your child is not drinking well
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.