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Urinary Tract Infection

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Children less than one year old are particularly often struck with urinary tract infection. The typical symptoms are prolonged fever, lack of appetite, complaints over frequent smarting urination and stomach-ache. The infection can be treated with antibiotics. You can aid the child by giving it plenty to drink. You must call the doctor immediately if the child becomes drowsy.

Urinary tract infection arises when there are too many bacteria in the child’s urine. The bacteria come from the rectum. From the rectum, they crawl up the urine tract and further up towards the bladder and the kidneys. When the child pees the bladder empties and the bacteria are flushed out. Some children has difficulty emptying the bladder because of congenital diseases while other children are simply too concerned with getting it done with when going to the toilet.

Urinary tract infection appears often with children. Statistics calculate that 3 % of all girls and 1 % of all boys will have at least one case of urinary tract infection. Especially small children – under one year old – get urinary tract infection. Around half of those children will have several cases of infection.

Prolonged fever and complaints about stomach-aches are typical symptoms of urinary tract infection. However, the illness develops differently according to how old the child is.

A child less than 2 years old will get high fever (more than 39.0ºC) that will not go away by itself – prolonged fever. The child becomes drowsy and cries a lot. It will eat less than usual and weight loss may occur.

If the child is between 2 and 5 years old, often there will only be high fever (more than 39.0 ºC) without any other symptoms. After a few days the child will start vomiting and complain about stomach-aches.

If the child is more than 5 years old it may not even have a fever. And if the child has a fever the temperature will only be slightly elevated (38.0ºC). On the other hand the child will complain about frequent urination and pain in connection with urination. Sometimes there may appear blood in the urine. Some children complain about stomach-aches as well.

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Urinary tract infection must be treated with antibiotics.

What can you do?

If the child has a fever it should dress lightly and stay in cool rooms to bring the temperature down. The child should have plenty to drink. When the child drinks a lot, it will urinate a lot and thereby flush out the bacteria with the urine.

Children with repeating cases of urinary tract infection must be taught to completely empty their bladder. You can help the child by making sure there is plenty of time for passing water, for example by reading to the child while it urinates.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If the child has a fever for more than 4 days and complains about stomach-aches. If the child complains about frequent seeping urination. If there is blood in the urine. If the child is less than 2 years old and its temperature is higher than 39ºC.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the child is drowsy. If its temperature gets higher than 40.5ºC.