One usually associates urinary tract infections (UTIs) with adults, but in fact, it is one of the most common causes of fevers in infants and children.
A UTI occurs when germs get into the urinary tract -- the part of the body that makes urine and carries it out of the body.
Paediatrician Dr Maelynne Miller said reasons for the development of UTIs in children include them holding up the urine too long and not wiping properly after urinating.
Regular visits to the bathroom can help to keep the urinary tract sterile by flushing away any bacteria, while holding it for too long can cause the bacteria to grow. Some girls tend to wipe from back to front after urinating, which might cause the germs in the faeces to infect the vagina.
When a child becomes infected with a UTI, it could be a sign of an abnormal urinary tract, or a blockage of the bladder which makes them prone to repeated problems. It is for this reason that a child who is suspected of having the infection should go through a series of tests to get to the root of the problem. A urinary or ultrasound test might be done for older children, while children under five will have to get an X-ray.
If left untreated, a UTI can lead to serious health problems such as hypertension, kidney scars, poor kidney growth, poor kidney function and kidney failure.
The symptoms for UTI in children vary with age. While older children might complain of feeling pain, having smelly or bloody urine, make more frequent trips to the bathroom or start wetting their beds again, younger children will experience diarrhoea, vomiting and might become fussy. In general, children might experience fevers, become less active and experience tummy and back pains.
You can prevent your children from developing a UTI by encouraging them to make regular trips to the bathroom and by teaching them proper cleaning techniques. You must also avoid giving your children bubble baths and dress them in loose-fitting clothing. Dr Miller also advised that parents should dress their girls in cotton panties rather than those made from nylon and other synthetic materials and teach them how to wipe themselves dry after urinating.