Urinary problems and injuries are a concern
in children. A young child may not be able to tell you about his or her
symptoms, which can make it hard to decide what your child needs. An older
child may be embarrassed about his or her symptoms. When your child has a
urinary problem or injury, look at all of his or her symptoms to determine what
steps to take next.
kidneys are the structures that make up the
Pain during urination (dysuria) and a
frequent need to urinate are common symptoms in young
children. When your child has only one of these symptoms, or when the symptoms
are mild, home treatment may be all that is needed to prevent the problem from
getting worse and help relieve symptoms. Mild symptoms include:
Pain during urination and a frequent need to urinate can also
mean your child has a
urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections
(UTIs) are the second most common bacterial infection in children. When your
child has an infection, bacteria grow in the bladder and irritate the bladder
wall. This causes pain as soon as a very small amount of urine reaches the
bladder. You may find your child trying to urinate more often than usual in an
effort to soothe the pain. But your child will pass very little urine
because the bladder has only collected a small amount since the last time he or
she urinated. Symptoms of a UTI vary depending on a child's age.
Many things can affect urine color, including fluid balance, diet, medicines, and diseases. How dark or light the color is tells you how much water is in it. Vitamin B supplements can turn urine bright yellow. Some medicines, blackberries, beets, rhubarb, or blood in the urine can turn urine red-brown.
Some foods (such as asparagus), vitamins, and antibiotics (such as penicillin) can cause urine to have a different odor. A sweet, fruity odor may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a bad odor.
Babies and very
young children who have UTIs often have symptoms that do not seem specific to
the urinary tract. Symptoms may include:
Young children who
have a UTI usually have symptoms that are more clearly related to the urinary
tract. Symptoms may include:
UTIs are caused when bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which are normally present in the
digestive tract, enter the urinary tract. Two common types of UTIs are:
Except during the first 3 months of life, girls are more
likely than boys to have urinary problems. Girls are also more likely than boys
to have more than one UTI.
Babies and young children who have
problems with the structure or function of the urinary tract may be more likely
to have UTIs. A problem such as
vesicoureteral reflux or an
obstruction in the urinary tract may make it hard
to empty the bladder completely. This will allow bacteria to grow and spread
more easily through the urinary tract. These problems may be present at birth
(congenital) or can be the result of surgery, injury, or past infection.
During the first year of life, boys are more likely than girls to have a
structural (anatomic) reason for urinary problems. If your child has a known
structural or functional problem with the urinary tract, follow your doctor's
instructions about when to seek care for urinary symptoms.
cases, a urinary symptom may indicate a more serious illness, such as
injury, such as getting hit in the back or genital
area, may cause urinary problems. A visit to a doctor is usually needed if your
child has trouble urinating, cannot urinate, or has blood in his or her
Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when
your child should see a doctor.
Pain in children 3 years and older
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
If you're not sure if a child's fever is high, moderate, or
mild, think about these issues:
With a high fever:
With a moderate fever:
With a mild fever:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of diabetes may
Temperature varies a little depending on how you measure it.
For children up to 11 years old, here are the ranges for high, moderate, and
mild according to how you took the temperature.
Oral (by mouth), ear, or rectal temperature
Armpit (axillary) temperature
Note: For children under 5 years old, rectal temperatures are
the most accurate.
A severe urgency problem means
A moderate or mild urgency problem means
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause
urinary symptoms. A few examples include:
It is easy for your diabetes to become out of control when
you are sick. Because of an illness:
An illness plan for people with diabetes usually covers things like:
The plan is designed to help keep your diabetes in control even
though you are sick. When you have diabetes, even a minor illness can cause
A baby that is extremely sick:
A baby that is sick (but not extremely
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in children are:
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Starting home treatment at the
first minor signs of an
urinary tract infection may prevent the problem from
getting worse and help clear up your child's infection.
Constipation may be present if your child is not drinking
enough fluids. For more information, see the topic
Constipation, Age 11 and Younger.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following may help prevent urinary
problems in children.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
child's doctor diagnose and treat your child's condition by being
prepared to answer the following questions:
A urine specimen may be collected during your child's office
visit. Do not encourage your child to go to the bathroom immediately before the
office visit. Special urine collection bags or a
catheter may be used to collect urine from a baby or
toddler who is not toilet trained.
August 15, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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