What is Urinary tract infection (UTI) in children?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. A UTI can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It is a system of tubes that carry urine from the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder.

During a UTI, bacteria or other organisms get into the urinary system. This can cause symptoms such as pain in the lower back or side, a fever, and cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

What is the difference between a UTI and a yeast infection?

A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract. A yeast infection is an infection of the vagina. A UTI can affect any part of the urinary tract.

A yeast infection is a type of vaginal infection. It occurs when a fungus (yeast) grows in the vagina. Yeast is usually harmless. However, it can cause a vaginal infection.

Symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, burning, and redness.

A UTI affects any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

The symptoms of a UTI are the same as a yeast infection. A UTI can also lead to a kidney infection.

Treatment for a UTI

Your healthcare provider will treat a UTI with antibiotics.

You and your provider will come up with a plan for how often to take antibiotics.

A UTI can usually clear up on its own, but you may need antibiotics for 1 to 3 weeks.

You can help your treatment plan by drinking plenty of fluids.

You may need to visit your healthcare provider for a follow-up visit.

You may also need an antibiotic if you have symptoms that do not clear up within 3 days.

How can I prevent a UTI?

You can help prevent a UTI by:

  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Washing the vagina before and after sex
  • Washing the genital area with warm water with soap
  • Using a condom
  • Getting regular pelvic exams

Outlook for UTI in children

UTIs in children are uncommon, but they can be serious.

In children, UTIs are more likely in those with:

  • A condition called congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS). This is a rare genetic disorder that involves having high levels of protein in the urine.
  • A condition called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). This is a condition in which the flow of urine from the bladder into the kidneys is not normal.
  • A condition called urinary tract obstruction (UTO). This is a condition in which urine cannot pass from the bladder into the kidneys.

UTIs in children usually clear up on their own. However, if you have a UTI, your child may need to take antibiotics to treat it.

Complications of a UTI

If a UTI is left untreated, it can lead to:

  • Kidney infection
  • E. Coli infection
  • Bacterial infection of the blood

When to see your child’s healthcare provider?

See your child’s healthcare provider if your child has:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Fever of 102 F (38 C) or higher, or higher than you have seen in your child
  • Pain in the side, back, or groin
  • Pain when urinating
  • Vomiting

For children, the symptoms of a UTI tend to come on over a few days. They may be like a stomach ache or a fever.

Children are more likely to have a UTI if they are:

  • Had a UTI before
  • Had a catheter, feeding tube, or feeding tube that has been removed
  • Had an injury
  • Had a recent catheter change
  • Had a recent surgery
  • Had a recent change in antibiotics

Diagnosing a UTI

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms. They will also ask about your child’s medical history and whether your child has any other medical conditions.

Your child may also have an exam to check for UTI symptoms.

Your child’s healthcare provider may also:

  • Give your child a physical exam
  • Take a urine sample

Your child may also have a urine culture. This test detects any microorganisms in the urine.

Treating a UTI

Your child’s healthcare provider may treat a UTI with:

  • Antibiotics for 2 to 3 weeks
  • Antiseptic soap to clean the genital area
  • Pain relievers
  • A warm compress to apply to the lower back or side
  • Pain relievers to relieve your child’s pain
  • A vaginal or oral birth control if your child has a UTI

Key points about UTIs in children

  • UTIs are infections that occur in any part of the urinary tract.


UTIs in children are not common, but they can be serious if left untreated. If your child has a UTI, it may need to be treated with antibiotics.

The outlook for your child depends on how severe the infection is.

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