Ten Ways to Avoid Getting a Urinary Tract Infection

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on April 1, 2014

in Healthy Living

drinkWhen it comes to training children to use the bathroom, there are a number of things that are sometimes difficult. It’s a learning process, and it can be tricky to know what to do.

If your child is complaining of painful urination, going to the bathroom more often in small amounts, and has a fever, she may have a urinary tract infection.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a very common problem in pediatrics, especially for girls, children who don’t empty their bladders completely, male infants, as well as others.

Agnes Bayer, CPNP works in pediatric urology at the McLane Children’s Specialty Clinic in Temple.  She is passionate about her role in helping children overcome a variety of sensitive issues. She can help children of all ages work through potty training, nighttime bedwetting, infections, overactive bladders, training pelvic floor muscles, urgency and the proper way to use the bathroom.

To children, she explains her role as a “bladder coach” or “potty school teacher” and treats each child with complete respect in keeping their private parts covered and special. She asks children about bathroom habits and can perform tests to see if your child is emptying her bladder properly.

Here are some tips Bayer shares to help your child avoid a UTI:

1.       Empty your bladder very regularly.

Even if you don’t think you have to go, after about two or three hours, try to go anyway. If your child is young, encourage them to use the bathroom instead of asking if they have to go. They will sometimes be honest in saying they don’t, and just moments later will need to go. Bayer says urine is food for the germs associated with a UTI. If you empty your bladder, bacteria can’t grow as well.

2.       Try to empty your bladder completely.

Sometimes children get busy playing or just in a hurry. If you don’t empty your bladder all the way, it’s called dysfunctional voiding. Bayer says she has seen a lot of children with this, and works with specialized pediatric physical therapists to teach pelvic floor relaxation techniques. There is also medication available to treat an overactive bladder that wants to empty sooner than it should.

“The capacity of the child’s bladder should be the age plus two in ounces,” says Bayer. For example, a 5 year-old’s bladder should be able to hold seven ounces.

3.       Drink more water.

Flushing away germs with water makes it harder for them to make you sick. You can avoid getting a UTI by drinking more water. The best color for urine is light yellow like lemonade, not the color of apple juice.

“I often call the kidneys the two washing machines of the body and the urine the dirty wash water of the body,” says Bayer.

4.       Use the tissue wiping from front to back.

It’s important to wipe from the front to the back after going to the bathroom. This helps you avoid getting the germs from your bottom into your bladder.

5.       Have regular bowel movements and avoid constipation.

“One of the important questions I ask the children is about their bowel habits,” says Bayer. “I ask very specific questions about shape, size, amount and frequency of the ‘poops.’”

She explains this is because the bladder is trying to do its job of expanding and emptying in the lower belly. Wrapped all around that area is the colon which stores the poop. Too much poop can push on the bladder and make it even more uneasy.

6.       Wash your private body area often.

You should use warm water and mild soap at least once every 24 hours to keep your private area clean and free from infection.

7.       Keep your underwear clean and dry.

Change underwear daily and give your private area a chance to dry out, and if urine leaks, change it right away. Germs like it dark and moist to grow. During the summer months, change out of swimwear as soon as possible. Cotton underwear is best.

8.       Talk to your doctor about recurring infections.

Although it is not uncommon for children to get UTIs it can sometimes be uncomfortable. If you suspect your child is in pain and has a fever, it’s important to get help. Bayer says she has met children with five to 10 urinary tract infections per year, which is certainly chronic and needs proper attention.

9.       Get help for other bathroom issues as well.

Just because incontinence in children is so very common, Bayer says it is not normal after the age of potty training. Parents should not be satisfied with “he or she will outgrow it.” If your child wets during the day after age 3 or 4, or still wets during the night around age 5 to 7, he or she should be evaluated.

10.   Take antibiotics or supplements.

UTIs are commonly treated with antibiotics. Bayer says they can treat a UTI and also help prevent them if used in a small, once-a-day dose in the evening. You can also consider taking cranberry supplements or probiotics to help the situation. Please avoid treating your child with an antibiotic before it is known what germ is growing and if the chosen medication will work to treat it. The only exception to this rule should be when he or she has a high fever and is very ill. In that case a urine sample should be submitted before the first dose of medication.

Remember, there are a variety of infections that can occur in a child’s private area. If there is a strong smell associated with your child’s urine, it can also be another condition such as bacteria. This is where there are bacteria in your bladder, but it’s not making her sick. See a doctor because she may also have a kidney infection. Seek proper care and testing to get the right treatment.

To schedule an appointment with pediatric urology, call 254-7245-KIDS. For more information about signs of urinary tract infections, check out our other blog article.

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