Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are a more common problem in young girls as the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside world) is much shorter than in boys.
As children grow, the urethra becomes longer (and cleaner) and the natural defences around its opening mature. Most children stop having UTI’s with time.
Children who have many UTI’s can develop scarring of the kidneys. Scarring can contribute to high blood pressure later in life and if severe can reduce kidney function.
This handout discusses the methods we can use to reduce the episodes of UTI.
There is no conclusive evidence that these treatments make a difference in reducing UTI’s in children. They can get expensive and people don’t like taking them for long periods.
Some children with recurrent UTI may benefit from a low dose of antibiotics taken every night. This often helps break the cycle of infection. Some children stop having UTI’s altogether, some have less frequent UTI’s and for others it makes no difference.
We try to avoid antibiotics in the long term because it increases the chance of antibiotic resistance, but they can be useful to break the cycle of UTI.
For some children, it can be difficult to tell if they have UTI. Symptoms include fever, stinging urine, smelly urine, pain in the tummy or back and vomiting.
If you are worried that your child has another UTI, take them to a doctor with a urine sample. (Keep the sample in the refrigerator if there is a delay).
This handout originally prepared by:
Dr Tom Forbes* (Paediatric Nephrologist)
Dr Chris Smith (General Paediatrician)