Urine infections are fairly common in children. About 8% of children may have a urine infection and generally girls are more frequently affected than boys. It is an infection that can affect any part of your child’s urinary tract (waterworks). Its symptoms depend on which part of the urinary tract is affected but the most common are: burning sensation when passing urine (dysuria), blood in the urine (Haematuria), smelly or cloudy urine, abdominal pain, back or loin pain, fever, wetting. Some young children can get very unwell with a urine infection and may develop a febrile convulsion with it.
The types of a urine infection depend on which part of the urinary tract they occur. A cystitis is an infection of the bladder, a pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney, a balanitis is an infection of the foreskin, and a vulvovaginitis is an infection of the female genital area.
You will be asked by your doctor or nurse to collect a urine sample from your child. This needs to be done in a very clean way and the urine collected in a special sterile urine pot. Once the urine is collected in such a way, this will be tested straight away by a urine dipstick test and will also be sent to the lab for further analysis to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to tell you if the initial test suggest an infection and advise you on what to do. The lab analysis usually takes up to 2 days for the results to come back.
The usual treatment method is with the appropriate antibiotics which your doctor will advise you on. In addition it is very important that you make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids, and passing urine regularly to clear the infection. If your child has constipation it is also very important to treat this as well.
Most urine infections in children are not associated with any abnormalities of the urinary tract. They can be triggered by your child not emptying their bladder frequently enough, or if they have constipation.
Infrequently some children with a urine infection can have an underlying problem in their urinary tract which can be identified using the special tests that your doctor may arrange, especially if your child was unwell with their infection or if they have had repeated and recurrent infections:
You will be informed by your doctor if any of these diagnoses apply to your child and if any further treatments are needed.
The most common test to request would be an ultrasound scan (gelly on the belly scan), which is a simple and non-invasive test that can show if your child has any anatomical problems with the kidneys or bladder associated with the infection. Your doctor can then decide if further tests are needed to investigate the urine infection further.