Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A UTI is an infection of the bladder or kidneys. It is caused by bacteria and is treated with antibiotics. Bladder infections are far more common than kidney infections; kidney infections are more serious and may need treatment with antibiotics through a drip in their vein

Your child is more likely to get a UTI if they are under 1 year old, a girl, or have problems with their urinary tract. About 8 in every 100 girls and 2 in every 100 boys will have had a urinary tract infection by the time they are 7 years old.

What are the symptoms?

It can be difficult to tell when a child has a UTI, especially if they are very young. The symptoms can vary depending on your child's age and the severity of the infection. Features suggesting a bladder infection include:

  • Pain or stinging when passing urine
  • Passing urine more often than normal
  • Crying when passing urine
  • Refusing to pass urine

If the following features are also present, your child might have a kidney infection:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Back or tummy pain

When should you worry?

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels extremely cold to touch
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Has blue lips or pauses in their breathing (apnoeas) or has an irregular breathing pattern
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (see the 'Glass Test')
  • Is under 1 month of age with a temperature of 38°C / 100.4°F or above

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Is struggling to take their antibiotics or not keeping them down due to vomiting
  • Seems dehydrated (sunken eyes, drowsy or no urine passed for 12 hours)
  • Starts to complain of pain in the back
  • Starts getting uncontrollable shakes (rigors)
  • Seems to be getting worse despite being on antibiotics for more than 2 days
  • Is between 1-3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C / 100°F or above; or 3-6 months of age with a temperature of 39°C / 102.2°F or above (but fever is common in babies up to 2 days after they receive vaccinations).
  • Continues to have a fever of 38.0°C or above for more than 5 days

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

  • None of the features above

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw with consent from the Hampshire development groups.

How can I help my child?
  • Ensure they get antibiotics at regular intervals as instructed by your doctor
  • It is important to make sure your child takes the antibiotics for as long as the doctor recommends. Otherwise, there is a chance that their infection won't be fully treated and your child might get ill again
  • Children with UTIs may be uncomfortable so you may wish to give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with their pain
What investigations will they need?
  • A UTI is diagnosed by testing a sample of your child's urine (pee). This sample needs to be 'caught' in a sterile pot. The sample will usually be tested immediately (dipstick) and may also be sent to the hospital for further testing
  • It will take a couple of days to get the results back - your child's antibiotics may be stopped or changed at that point
  • If your child is under 6 months of age, they will need kidney scans soon after their UTI. This will be organised by their doctor. Older children with frequent UTIs may also need a scan of their kidneys. This will look to see if their is a structural problem that explains why your child is more likely to get UTIs and whether the infection has caused any damage to the kidney
What is the treatment?
  • Your child will need antibiotics to treat their UTI. Most children with a bladder infection can be managed with oral antibiotics.
  • If your child has a kidney infection or if they are very young (under 3 months of age), they may need to go to hospital for antibiotics through a drip in their vein.
Help your child to avoid getting UTIs in the future
  • Ensure your child drinks plenty - aim for 6-8 glasses daily
  • Ensure your child goes to the toilet regularly - aim for every 2-3 hours, including at school
  • Treat constipation - see your GP
  • Encourage girls to wipe their bottom from front to back
  • Use loose-fitting cotton underwear
  • Avoid bubble bath and excessive soap in the bath
Worried that your child has got another UTI?
  • Next time your child has a fever for no obvious reason, especially if nobody else is unwell in the family, make sure a urine sample is checked. If your child has a UTI, it is important that it is diagnosed and treated early. That way, there is far less change that it will cause long term damage to their kidneys
Useful websites

Eric The Children's Bowel and Bladder Charity

Where should you seek help?

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.

Self-care

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance
Survey for parents/carers - what was the outcome of you looking at this page?

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