Could Your Child’s Bothersome Bathroom Behavior Be Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection?

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on October 16, 2012

in Medical Information

It’s the third time that your child has asked to go to the bathroom since you arrived at the mall, and each time was portrayed as an emergency. While you are slightly annoyed at their frequent trips to the loo, it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms.

Their perturbing potty practices may be more than a reason to play with the foamy soap in the bathroom. They could actually be suffering from a urinary tract infection.

Urinary tract infections affect about three percent of children in the United States each year, and throughout childhood boys have a two percent chance of having a UTI and girls an eight percent chance.

But how do you know whether or not your child has this kind of infection? Scott & White pediatric nephrologist, Alisa A. Acosta, MD, explains how to spot the symptoms and how to keep your child from getting one.

What are the signs and symptoms of UTI?

The presentation of symptoms largely depends on the age of the child, Dr. Acosta said. The younger the child, the harder it is to determine if what ails them is actually a UTI.

“Children less than two years may present with a fever, diarrhea and vomiting or foul-smelling urine,” she said. “While an older child, who is better able to communicate, might be complaining of burning or pain with urination or abdominal pain.”

School-aged children, or children who are well potty-trained, might also start experiencing some of the classic symptoms of a UTI:

  • Urgency – the child feels like they have to get to the bathroom quickly or they will have an accident.
  • Frequency – the child feels as if their bladder is never completely empty.
  • Having accidents (in a well potty-trained child)
  • Painful urination

How is a UTI treated?

“Really, the only way to treat [a UTI] is with antibiotics,” Dr. Acosta said. “So, the child would have to be seen by their physician and have it diagnosed through a urinalysis and urine culture.”

The urine can be collected in a number of ways, depending on the age of the child.

If the child is not potty-trained, then the most accurate sample is collected by catheterizing the bladder. Although in some cases, the physician may opt for a less invasive procedure where a plastic collection bag is placed in the child’s diaper over his or her genitals to collect urine.

If the child is potty-trained, the urine can often be collected by doing a “mid-stream clean catch,” where the child urinates into a specimen cup.

Is there any way to prevent a UTI?

A typical infant isn’t going to be prone to infection in his or her urinary tract. If the child is experiencing this type of infection on a regular basis, then they may need to have further medical testing done to make sure there are no abnormalities of the urinary system, Dr. Acosta said.

“In older children—the potty-trained and school-aged children—the idea is to promote frequent urination,” she said. “We don’t want children to hold their urine too long.”

Urinating often helps to keep the urinary tract sterile by flushing away bacteria. Holding urine for a prolonged period of time can cause bacteria to grow.

Here are a few other ways to reduce your child’s risk of getting a UTI:

  • Drink plenty of fluids – make sure your child is drinking enough. Passing small amounts of urine can also lead to bacteria build-up.
  • Keep it clean – teach your child to clean themselves properly after using the bathroom to keep bacteria from getting into the urinary tract.
  • Wear breathable undergarments – have your child wear underwear that is loose-fitting and made of a breathable fabric. This will help keep the area dry.
  • Stop Constipation – if your child has frequent constipation, the hard stool can press against the bladder, block the flow of urine and cause bacteria to grow.

When should my child see the doctor?

“If the child is less than two-years-of-age and they have a fever with no other symptoms, I usually recommend that they’re seen within about 24 hours of the onset of fever, especially if they have a known abnormality that puts them at risk for a UTI,” Dr. Acosta said.

If an older child is persistently complaining of frequent urination, urgency, pain or burning when they relieve themselves, or if they are having unexplained accidents, then the nephrologist suggests having them seen as soon as possible.

Click here for more information about UTIs.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: