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How to prevent urinary tract infections in children

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By Dr Margaret Nakuya

For the past month, there has been an increase in children suffering from urinary tract infections. The prevalence of infections in children is alarming, which leads to the question of why there is an increase and how it can be prevented among children in our communities.

In this article, I shed more light on how it comes about, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive methods.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of the urinary tract. UTIs are common in children but are significantly more common in girls. UTIs are caused by different germs, which may be bacteria, viruses, or fungi; however, the most common cause of UTIs is bacteria.

Many childhood urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by poor hygiene, straining or hesitancy while urinating, or difficulty relaxing the muscles of the bladder and urethra. UTIs can also occur in children who hold in urine for long periods or don’t drink enough fluids.

UTI is not common in children younger than 5 years. A UTI is much more common in girls. This is because they have shorter urethra. A UTI is unlikely for boys of any age. However, it can occur in boys if part of the urinary tract is blocked. Uncircumcised boys are more at risk for a UTI than circumcised boys. A child with a partial or full blockage in the urinary tract is more likely to develop a UTI.

Signs and symptoms include painful or burning urination; crying while urinating; a more frequent need or urge to use the bathroom; Passing only a very small amount of urine at a time; Frequent night-waking to use the bathroom; Bed-wetting in potty-trained children; Pain below the belly button or back Foul-smelling urine; Urine that appears cloudy, pink, or cola-colored

Urinalysis, performing a urine examination is important to make a diagnosis of UTI in children; kidney ultrasound is a painless imaging test. It uses sound waves and a computer to make images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs; abdominal U/S; girls who have had recurrent UTIs; or a boy who presents with even the first episode of UTI. It can give information about any complications in the kidneys and ureters.

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment may include antibiotic medicine, a heating pad or medicines to relieve pain, and drinking plenty of water.

Your child’s healthcare provider may want to see your child back again a few days after treatment starts to see how treatment is working.

In a bid to prevent UTIs in children, teach them to wipe from front to back, which can help keep the urethra the tube that carries urine out of the body from becoming infected with bacteria from the anus; place children on a regular bathroom schedule to ensure that they urinate every two to four hours; and Ensure that children eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to flush out bacteria and prevent constipation, which can make it difficult to empty the bladder and may increase the risk of developing a UTI.

If your child has any of the above UTI symptoms, visit UMC Victoria Hospital for expert pediatric consultation and treatment.

The author is a pediatric specialist at UMC Victoria Hospital.

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