- Pain, burning, or stinging during urination
- A frequent urge to urinate, even when the bladder is empty
- Urine that appears unusually dark, pinkish, or has a very strong odor
- An increase in wetting accidents, even if the child is potty trained
- Pain in the lower tummy or back
What causes UTIs in kids?
Bacteria is to blame for urinary tract infections in people of all ages. This condition occurs when bacteria enters the urethra—the duct in the genital area where urine exits—and begins to spread up the urinary tract and into the bladder. The body’s urinary system naturally defends against such invaders in most cases, but bacteria can sometimes prevail.
- Keep them hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can encourage your child to use the restroom frequently, which helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract and encourage your child to use the restroom regularly.
- Encourage healthy bathroom habits. After using the restroom, teach your child to wipe thoroughly and from front to back to help prevent the spread of bacteria. Also make sure your child uses the restroom frequently throughout the day (no holding pee!) and empties his or her bladder completely.
- Serve cranberry juice. The jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of cranberry juice when it comes to preventing UTIs, but some professionals believe it can promote good urinary health.
- Avoid bubble baths. Frothy and fragrant bubble baths and soaps are known to cause skin irritation and increase the risk of UTIs.
- Buy cotton underwear. Nylon underwear is more likely to promote bacteria growth, so opt for cotton undergarments on your next shopping trip.
- Quickly change dirty diapers. No brainer here—sitting in a dirty diaper for too long can increase the risk of infection.
If left untreated
Despite what you may have heard on mom blogs or social media, no amount of cranberry juice can treat a UTI. If your child is displaying UTI symptoms, it is important to promptly seek professional medical care. If left untreated, the infection can spread beyond the urinary tract and infect the kidneys, causing a condition called pyelonephritis, which necessitates more extensive treatment than a UTI. Additional complications may then develop that can even lead to kidney damage.
You can take a deep breath, though, because pediatric UTI treatment is typically very simple and effective. Most kids feel 100 percent better after a few days of antibiotics. In severe cases, antibiotics may need to be taken for a week or longer. While the antibiotics are at work, you can help your child feel better by placing a warm (not hot!) heating pad on their lower tummy and providing hydrating snacks like watermelon, grapefruit, celery with peanut butter, or popsicles.
If you believe your child as a UTI, do your child (and yourself) a favor by calling DispatchHealth for quick, comfortable, and comprehensive in-home treatment. Requesting care for non-life-threatening conditions is simple—just give us a call, download our app, or request care via our website. We are here to help 365 days a year, and have extended hours. Plus, we accept most major health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer affordable flat rates for self-pay patients.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil Mitchell MD, MS on October 3rd, 2019