Though a bacterial infection, the bladder has many ways of eliminating the bacteria and preventing the infection. However, sometimes a child’s body cannot fight the bacteria and gets the infection instead.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are very very common in children. These may happen when bacteria gains their way into the kidneys and the bladder. The infection which involves the kidneys is often referred to as the upper UTI. The one that involves the bladder is the lower UTI.
Shocked that how can children get UTI. The first time I heard a colleague’s son getting UTI. I was rather puzzled that the young boy hardly goes out of the house. He must be using clean loos at home but still, he contracted the germs of the UTI.
Recognising UTI: By looking at the symptoms it can be difficult to diagnose UTI. This is for the fact that the symptoms are common to the other illnesses and children are not able to communicate properly. These symptoms are:
- High fever
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Loss of appetite
However, the symptoms which are specific to UTI in children are:
- Burning sensation and pain while peeing
- Purposely holding their pee
- An urge to pee rather frequently
- Smelly pee
- Blood in their pee
- Pain in their stomach and lower back
- Change in toilet habits like bed wetting
The best way to diagnose a UTI is collecting the child’s urine sample. Once UTI is confirmed treatment can be started immediately with antibiotics which are very effective.
Why Children Develop UTI:
UTI is rather common in children and is usually caused by the bacteria of their digestive system which gains entry into the urethra (a tube connected to the urinary bladder and removes the urine from the body). Still wondering how this can happen? Well, the germs gain entry in the following ways:
- When children wipe their bottoms and the soiled tissue paper comes in contact with the genitals, it can give rise to the infection. This is very common in girls as their urethra is closer to the bottoms.
- In the case of babies, small fragments of their poop may get stuck in the urethra when they soil their nappies and diapers. The chances of this are high when they keep wriggling a lot during the diaper change.
However, some children are at a higher risk of contracting UTI because they may have problems with emptying their bladder. These conditions are:
- Constipation: This is common in children. When constipation occurs the large intestines swell and they put pressure on the bladder. This further prevents the bladder from emptying in a normal way.
- Vesicoureteral Reflux: This is a condition where the urine goes back to the bladder and into the kidneys and ureters. This is usually due to a problem in the valves. About 1 in 3 children with fever and UTI have this condition.
- Dysfunctional Elimination Syndrome: This is a condition of acquiring abnormal patterns of emptying bladders like holding on to their pee even when they have an urge to visit the toilet.
How can we Prevent UTI in Children:
If we do our best we can prevent a child from getting UTI. Here are some ways which are not only easy but helpful as well:
- Newborns should be exclusively breastfed for a minimum of 6 months. This helps to strengthen the baby’s immune system and also reduces the chances of constipation.
- The child should take in enough fluids and visit the bathroom at regular intervals. Holding on the pee makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the kidneys.
- Make sure that you wipe a girls bottom from front to back. This reduces the chances of bacterial invasion from the urethra. Also, encourage your girl to do the same.
- Stick to cotton undergarments. Nylon undergarments can become an easy breeding place for the bacteria, thus loose fitting and comfortable cotton wear should be selected.
- Perfumed soaps and bubble baths should be avoided as these may lead to the irritation of the urethra, thereby increasing the risk of UTI.
Teaching the children about good hygiene can further help in preventing cases of UTI’s.
Theme Reveal, A – Autism, B – Bronchiolitis, C – Celiac Disease, D – Dyslexia, E – Eating Disorders, F – Fever, G – GERD, H – Hand Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD), I – Imaginary Friends, J – Juvenile Arthritis, K – Kawasaki Disease, L – Leukaemia, M – Meningitis, N – Neuroblastoma, O – Omphalitis, P – Pica, Q – Q Fever, R – Retinoblastoma, S – SIDS, T – Tetanus