Urinary Tract Infection in Children

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A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection and inflammation of any part of the body's system for removing your child’s urine from the body. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, the ureters (which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder (which stores urine until it is ready to be released), and the urethra (through which urine flows to the outside of the body).

Bacteria can infect any part of this system, but infections most commonly begin in the urethra or bladder.

Causes of UTIs

UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and multiplying. Usually, the bacteria come from the child’s own rectal area or digestive tract.

UTIs are not common in children under the age of 5. They more commonly occur in girls.

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Symptoms vary for each child and are similar to those seen in other conditions. In babies, these can include:

  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Crying, irritability or fussiness
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms in older children may include:

  • Sudden and frequent need to urinate
  • Pain while urinating
  • Incontinence or other trouble with urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, back, side or below the ribs
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever, chills and/or fatigue

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health Children's

At UVA Health Children's, your child’s healthcare provider may perform tests such as:

  • Urine analysis
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (a type of imaging test that focuses on the bladder and how it empties)

Depending on the symptoms and age of your child, treatment may include:

  • Instructions to drink plenty of water
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relief medication