A urinary tract infection (UTI) is fairly common in children and in most cases nothing serious. Of course, as a concerned parent, it is important to seek doctors’ advice whenever a child seems to be poorly, with no obvious source of infection such as a cold, cough etc.
A delay in diagnosis and management may sometimes affect the kidneys, meaning a prompt action is required if suspicious. The following symptoms can give parents an idea as to whether their child is experiencing a recurrence of UTI:
- generally being unwell
- pain in passing urine
- loin pain
- feeling sick or nauseated
The above may vary and often younger children are unable to verbalise their symptoms. The signs of a UTI in babies can be non-specific, such as vomiting, being unwell, diarrhoea and/or loss of weight, or even prolonged new-born jaundice.
How to prevent a UTI in kids
1. Liquid intake
It is recommended that your child drinks between 6 - 8 glasses of water at least every day. A good liquid intake replenishes the circulation and flushes the kidneys and bladder to prevent the collection of waste and toxic products (germs).
2. Bladder habit
Young children have a tendency to hold urine, especially when they are at school. This not only affects the bladder tonicity but also promotes the growth of unhealthy germs from stagnant urine, leading to infection. A UTI is an ascending infection, which can often migrate to the upper tract (kidneys). A regular bladder habit (every 2-4 hours) is recommended.
3. Bowel habit
A constipated bowel (rectum/colon) can affect the emptying of the bladder and also irritates the bladder musculature. This causes incomplete emptying and residual urine in the bladder and also irritability of the muscles. Residual urine can promote the growth of unfriendly germs and infection.
It is recommended to have a regular bowel habit (opening bowels every day), where the stool consistency should be soft. A regular liquid intake, eating fruits and fibre and regular physical activity helps promotes regular bowel movements. Sometimes a laxative may be needed on doctor’s advice.
A regular cleaning of the genital area is very important in keeping the area germ free. The urinary passage is quite close to the anal area in girls and an improper cleaning can promote the growth of germs from the gut to migrate to the bladder and cause a urinary infection. A front to back wiping and daily showers or baths helps in keeping the area clean.
There is variable evidence to suggest that, in some cases, the use of live yoghurt or lactobacillus (probiotic drinks) may help prevention of infection by promoting the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut and colon. There are other agents such as cranberry juice, where again the response is very variable but may prove beneficial in some cases.
If you're worried about a suspected UTI in your child, then do not hesitate to book an appointment to see a specialist.