Contrary to popular belief that urine infection affects only adults, urine infection in children is also very common. The problem is that diagnosis of urine infection in children is difficult due to presentation of non-specific symptoms. Hence, it is very important that parents and doctors insist upon urine testing especially in case of children having unexplained fevers of over 100.4 F.
Symptoms of urine infection in children
Often a child suffering from urine infection may have no symptoms at all. Very young children might not be able to express all of their symptoms accurately. Some kids are just very irritable and do not eat much. Others may express the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Severe pain and high fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Back ache or pain in the ribs in case of kidney infection
- Crying while urinating
- Producing only a few drops of urine
- Leakage of urine in bed clothes or bed sheets
- Lethargy or irritability along with refusal to feed, in case of infants
- Haematuria or bloody or cloudy urine
- Offensive smell from urine
Diagnosing urine infection in children
Parents and caregivers who suspect urine infection in children must have their child’s urine tested as per the instructions of their healthcare provider. The collection of urine sample must be done in a manner that is least contaminating. For children who are not toilet trained, parents may need to tie a plastic collection bag over the genital area of the child in order to collect the sample.
The urine sample is examined at the lab under a microscope. In case of urine infection in children, the sample is likely to contain pus and bacteria. Some pediatricians often recommend a urine culture, a procedure that deliberately multiplies the bacteria present in the sample under controlled conditions, to accurately determine the type and kind of infection. Urine cultures and other sensitivity tests help doctors recommend the right antibiotic course while avoiding medications to which the bacteria might be immune.
Treating urine infection in children
As discussed above, antimicrobials or antibiotics are normally prescribed for treating urine infection in children. After the results of urine testing are obtained, the doctor will prescribe the medication best suited to fight the bacteria causing the infection. The exact dose and length of the medication normally depends upon the child’s weight, age and overall health. In case of children who are too sick, doctors may directly inject the medicine in the bloodstream. Most cases of urine infection in children, generally respond well to pills or liquids.
It is important to complete the dose of the given medicine despite the child feeling better. Generally, after a few doses, the symptoms of urine infection in children are likely to vanish. It is important to continue giving the medication as early stopping of drugs can lead to recurrence of infection or might make the bacteria resistant to future treatment.
In case of severe kidney infections or recurrent urine infection in children, further tests may be recommended by the health care providers. These include Ultrasounds of the kidney and bladder, Cystourethrograms, Computerized Tomography or CT scans, MRIs or Magnetic resonance Imaging or Radionuclide scans. The kind of tests ordered depends upon the type and severity of the urine infection as well as the age and overall health of the child. Different tests help the doctors see the different parts of the urinary tract system.
Nearly 3 % children in United States are diagnosed with urine infections each year. While most infections are not serious, if ignored, they can lead to severe kidney infections. Hence early diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial for effective management and prevention of urine infection in children.