Diagnosing a UTI in little ones can be tricky, so use this guide to see if a doctor's visit is necessary.
We all know that children tend to get sick often because they are around other sick children, and spreading germs is pretty easy when you're a kid. Along with illnesses like colds, flu, and strep throat, your little one can also get a UTI. Who knew? In fact, up to 8% of girls and 2% of boys will get a UTI by age 5. Recognizing the symptoms of UTIs in children can be a bit challenging, especially with young ones that can't express themselves well. The symptoms of UTIs in kids are a little different than in adults, so we are here to make it easy for you.
How Do Kids Get UTIs?
According to WebMD, a urinary tract infection is when bacteria enters any part of your urinary system, including your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Most UTIs in children are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria that enters the digestive tract. This usually occurs when bacteria from their skin or poop get into the urinary tract and multiply. This is mostly from not wiping properly after they go number 2 or if poop gets on their hands while wiping. Yup, that's pretty easy to do when you're a kid.
UTIs are not common in children younger than age 5. They tend to occur more in girls than boys because they have a shorter urethra than males. Uncircumcised boys are more at risk for a UTI than circumcised boys because it is easier for bacteria to get trapped under the foreskin and block the urinary tract.
Here's What Symptoms of a UTI Can Look Like in Children
In older kids, the symptoms are more like they are in adults. This includes a frequent urge to pee, lower belly and back pain, and possible blood in their urine. Some children may even lose control over their bladder and wet the bed at night. With younger kids, you might need to dig a bit more to find out what's really going on. If your child isn't feeling well but not really sure what is bothering them, look for these symptoms:
Symptoms in infants can include:
- Bad-smelling urine
- Fussiness/ Irritability
- Incessant Crying
- Not feeding or drinking bottles
Symptoms in children under 10 can include:
- Sudden and frequent need to urinate
- Loss of control of urine and wetting bed at night
- Pain while urinating
- Trouble urinating
- Lower belly pain
- Blood in the urine
- Bad-smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the back or side below the ribs
It's super important to recognize the signs of a UTI so that your child can get treated properly. If left untreated for too long, a regular UTI can develop into a more severe kidney or bladder infection. But if diagnosed quickly, a doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics that will cure the infection and make your child feel better in just a few days. To help your child feel better, make sure they drink extra fluids when you first notice symptoms and encourage them to urinate often. To help prevent UTIs in children, go over the importance of wiping front to back and washing their hands after going potty. There are also a few at-home remedies that are safe and effective for prevention.