A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection in the plumbing system anywhere from the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra.
About eight percent of girls and one to two percent of boys have had a urinary tract infection (UTI) by the time they are five years old.
Bladder infections (lower UTIs) in older children and adults may only cause lower abdominal discomfort, a burning sensation when passing urine called dysuria and the urge to pass urine often called urinary frequency.
UTIs may be very difficult to diagnose in young children who present with fevers, vomiting, abdominal pain and lethargy.
UTIs are diagnosed by performing a test called a urine culture, when urine is sent to the pathology lab and bacteria is grown from the urine, with results available in 48 hours. Collecting a urine sample from a child in nappies can be a difficult task with a parent waiting anxiously for a wee whilst poised with a sterile jar in hand.
A urinalysis is an excellent screening test to determine whether a UTI is likely. A chemically impregnated test strip is dipped into the urine sample and the result is read at one minute.
If the patient is unwell or at higher risk (such as a very young child) then oral antibiotics can be started immediately whilst waiting for the lab result.
Treatment involves antibiotics, increase fluid intake and frequent voiding (emptying the bladder). In young children and infants your doctor will usually order a test called a renal ultrasound which visualises the kidneys and bladder.
Children less than one year of age with a UTI may become very unwell with high fevers and require hospital admission and intravenous antibiotics for a few days.
Young girls may suffer from recurrent UTIs as a result of infrequent and incomplete voiding, being too busy playing and holding on rather than going to the toilet. Constipation can also result in recurrent UTIs.
Daily cranberry juice may reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs but does not treat a UTI.
- UTIs are diagnosed by a urine culture
- UTIs may be very difficult to diagnose in young children
- Treatment involves antibiotics, increase fluid intake, frequent voiding
- Children less than one year may require hospital admission and intravenous antibiotics