Urinary Tract Infection – Cystitis: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Urinary Tract Infection – Cystitis

Introduction to urinary tract infections:

When adults get bladder infections, they typically report burning with urination. Young children, however, may not offer such easy clues.

What is urinary tract infections?

Infections of the urinary tract are common in young children. Bacteria may enter the urinary tract from the opening and travel upward. Less commonly, they may enter the urinary tract through the bloodstream.

If the infection is in the bladder, it is called cystitis. If it is in the kidney, it is called pyelonephritis.

E. coli, a type of stool bacteria, is the most common cause of urinary tract infections. Many other types of bacteria can cause infections. Even viruses, such as adenovirus, can infect the bladder.

Who gets urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections are more common in girls, because the short, straight trip up to the bladder is easier for bacteria to traverse. About 1 in 20 girls develop urinary tract infections, most commonly around the age of toilet learning.

The most common age for boys to get urinary tract infections is before the first birthday. Uncircumcised boys get more urinary tract infections than their peers.

What are the symptoms of urinary tract infections?

Bladder infections can cause lower abdominal pain, increased urination, uncomfortable urination, tenderness over the bladder, blood in the urine (hematuria), or a fever. In young children, the only symptoms noticed might be fussiness and perhaps a fever. Perhaps the urine will look or smell different than usual.

A high fever (or a febrile seizure) suggests pyelonephritis.

Sometimes bacteria in the urine are discovered only on a screening urine test. In retrospect, they may have been causing symptoms, such as bedwetting, that weren’t recognized.

Is urinary tract infections contagious?

Urinary tract infections are not usually spread from person to person, but are caused when stool bacteria makes it into the opening where urine emerges.

How long does urinary tract infections last?

Most urinary tract infections clear up quickly – within days – when the appropriate antibiotics are started.

How is urinary tract infections diagnosed?

Urinary tract infections are diagnosed with urine cultures. They may be suggested by the history and physical exam or by a urinalysis test.

How is urinary tract infections treated?

Most urinary tract infections are best treated promptly with antibiotics to prevent possible damage to the kidneys.

The cultured urine will be tested against several antibiotics to see which work best against that specific strain of bacteria. Treatment should not be delayed to wait for this result. It should be started immediately and switched if necessary when the antibiotic sensitivity results are available.

How can urinary tract infections be prevented?

Some urinary tract infections can be prevented by reducing exposure to stool. This means changing diapers promptly, and in older girls, teaching them to wipe from front to back.

Most young children who have had a urinary tract infection should have imaging studies performed to look for urine reflux (urine that flows upward at times toward the kidney) and to look for any abnormality in the urinary tract. The studies could also identify any scarring that may have occurred.

Depending on the results of these studies, specific medicines or surgery may be needed to prevent further urinary tract infections.

Related concepts:

UTI, Cystitis, Bladder Infection

Dr. Alan Greene

As a father of four himself, Dr. Greene has devoted himself to freely giving real answers to parents' real questions -- from questions about those all too common childhood conditions to those that address the most recent and rare pediatric illnesses. His answers combine cutting edge science, practical wisdom, warm empathy, and a deep respect for parents, children, and the environment. He is also an electrifying public speaker, and has personally touched many during his talks in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Dr. Greene is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California at San Francisco. Upon completion of his pediatric residency program at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California he served as Chief Resident. He entered primary care pediatrics in January 1993.

Dr. Greene is the Past President of The Organic Center and on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World. He is a founding partner of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. He also consults for the Environmental Working Group.

In 1995, he launched DrGreene.com, cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site” on the Internet. His award-winning site has received over 80 million Unique Users from parents, concerned family members, students, and healthcare professionals. In addition to being the founder of DrGreene.com, he is the Medical Director for HealthTap.

In 2010 Dr. Greene founded the WhiteOut Movement to change how babies in the United States are fed. In 2012 he founded TICC TOCC - Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping To Optimal Cord Clamping. He is also the founder of KidGlyphs, a free iPhone app that provides a tool for young children to express themselves beyond their verbal skills while teaching them important language skills.

Dr. Greene is the Founding President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and has served as both President and Board Chair of Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics. He is on the Board of Directors for Healthy Child Healthy World, The Lunchbox Project, and The Society for Participatory Medicine. He has also served as an advisor to URAC for both their inaugural and their updated health web site accreditation program. He is a founding member of the e-Patient Scholars Working Group, and a founding board member of the Center for Information Therapy.

Dr. Greene is a regular columnist for Parenting Magazine. He is also the Pediatric Expert for The People’s Pharmacy (as heard on NPR) and Healing Quest (seen on PBS stations). He was the original Pediatric Expert for both Yahoo! and iVillage.

Dr. Greene is the author of Feeding Baby Green (Wiley, 2009), Raising Baby Green (Wiley, 2007), From First Kicks to First Steps (McGraw-Hill, 2004), The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections (People's Medical Society, 1997), and a co-author of The A.D.A.M. Illustrated Family Health Guide (A.D.A.M., Inc., 2004). He is the medical expert for three additional books, The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your New Baby, (Contemporary Books, 1998) The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your Toddler, (Contemporary Books, 1999), and The Mother of All Baby Books, (Hungry Minds, Inc., 2002).

Dr. Greene is a frequent keynote speaker at important events such as Health 2.0 2011 held in San Diego, CA, IFOAM 2008 (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), held in Modena Italy, the first European Internet health conference, held in Maastricht, the first International eHealth Association Conference, held in Jeddah, and the largest e-Healthcare World Conference, held in Las Vegas, and the first Green Power Baby Shower, held in Hollywood. Dr. Greene also appears frequently on TV, radio, websites, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including such venues as the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC network news, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, Parade, Parenting, Child, Baby Talk, Working Mother, Better Home's & Gardens, and the Reader's Digest.

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