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.
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.
In rare cases, a urinary symptom may indicate a more serious illness, such as diabetes.
An 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 urine.
Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when your child should see a doctor.
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.
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Pain in children 3 years and older
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:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:
A severe urgency problem means that:
A moderate or mild urgency problem means that:
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
A forehead (temporal) scanner is usually 0.5° F (0.3° C) to 1° F (0.6° C) lower than an oral temperature.
Armpit (axillary) temperature
Note: For children under 5 years old, rectal temperatures are the most accurate.
Symptoms of diabetes may include:
A baby that is extremely sick:
A baby that is sick (but not extremely sick):
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 problems.
It is easy for your diabetes to become out of control when you are sick. Because of an illness:
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause urinary symptoms. A few examples include:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Home care isn't a substitute for medical care when it comes to treating a urinary tract infection (UTI). If you think your child may have a UTI, a doctor should see him or her right away.
Along with seeing the doctor, there are things you can do at home that may help your child.
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 treatment:
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.
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