If your child has a urinary tract infection and has been lethargic, irritable, or not drinking or eating well, these symptoms should begin to improve in 1 - 2 days after treatment begins.
(Note: if your child has a brain or nervous system disorder or abnormal changes or defects in their urinary tract, talk to your doctor before following these instructions.)
Treating the Infection
Your child will be given antibiotics to be taken by mouth at home. These may come as pills, capsules, or a liquid.
- For a simple bladder infection, your child will likely take antibiotics for 3 - 5 days. If your child has a fever, your child may take antibiotics for 10 - 14 days.
- Antibiotics may cause side effects, such as nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Report these to your child's doctor, but do NOT just stop giving the pills to your child.
- It is important that your child finishes all the antibiotics, even if after your child begins to feel better. Urinary tract infections that are not well treated and become worse can cause harm to your child's kidneys.
Your doctor may also give your child a drug to relieve the burning pain and the urgent need to urinate. The urine will have an orange or red color when taking this drug. Your child will still need to take antibiotics.
Preventing Future Urinary Tract Infections
- Avoid giving your child bubble baths.
- Have your child wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton-cloth underwear.
- Keep your child's genital area clean.
- Teach your child to urinate several times a day.
- Teach your child to wipe the genital area from front to back after using the bathroom. This can help reduce the chance of spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
Constipation should be avoided. Your child should eat foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
See or call your child's health care provider after your child finishes taking antibiotics to make sure that the infection is gone.
When to Call the Doctor
Call right away if the following symptoms develop:
- Back or side pain
These may be signs of a possible kidney infection.
Also call if your child has already been diagnosed with a UTI and the symptoms of a bladder infection come back shortly after your child finishes antibiotics.
At any time in the future, call your health care provider for symptoms of a bladder infection:
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy urine
- Foul or strong urine odor
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- General ill feeling (malaise)
- Pain or burning with urination
- Pressure or pain in the lower pelvis or lower back
- Wetting problems after the child has been toilet trained
- Low-grade fever
White B. Diagnosis and treatment of urinary tract infections in children. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(4):409-15. PMID: 21322515 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21322515.
Williams G, Craig JC. Long-term antibiotics for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(3):CD001534. PMID: 21412872 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21412872.
Update Date 10/27/2011
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.