|   Find a Doctor   |   Getting to NUH   |   Appointments   |   Contact Us   |   Newsroom   |   About NUH   |   Make a Gift

Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Kidney & Liver Conditions > Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection

About The Condition   Causes   Signs And Symptoms
Diagnosis And Treatment Options   Tips


What Is Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys and bladder.


Urinary tract infection occurs more commonly in girls than boys.


Back to top


Causes of Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria which infect the urinary tract.


An infection can occur anywhere along the urinary tract, but the lower part - the urethra and bladder - is most commonly involved. This is called cystitis.


If the infection travels up the ureters to the kidneys, it's called pyelonephritis and it's generally more serious.


Although bacteria are not normally found in the urine, they can easily enter the urinary tract from the skin around the anus. Intestinal bacteria E. coli is the most frequent cause of urinary tract infection.


Back to top


Signs And Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infection

The symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Passing urine more often than usual
  • Pain and burning sensation when passing urine
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Bedwetting
  • Wetting during the day
  • Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe tiredness and lack of energy


However, the symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not always be obvious in young children as they may not be able to describe how they feel.


Back to top

Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Urinary Tract Infection

Early and accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications of urinary tract infection like renal scarring.


After performing a physical exam, the doctor may take a urine sample to check for and identify bacteria causing the infection.


The urine sample may be used for a urinalysis (a test that checks the urine for germs or pus) or a urine culture (which attempts to grow and identify bacteria in a laboratory). Knowing what bacteria are causing the infection can help your doctor choose the best medication to treat it.


Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic used and how long it must be taken will depend on the type and severity of bacteria causing the infection.


After several days of antibiotics, your doctor may repeat the urine tests to check if the infection is gone. An incompletely treated urinary tract infection can recur or spread.


Back to top


Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Urinary Tract Infection

What should I do if I think my child has a urinary tract infection?

  • Consult your child’s doctor. Your child may have to undergo some tests for a proper diagnosis.
  • Give your child any medication prescribed by the doctor. Be sure to check whether the medication should be taken before or after meals. If your child vomits or refuses the medicine, notify the doctor.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. This will help to dilute the urine and make it less painful to pass.
  • Notify your child’s school teacher that your child may need to use the washroom more often than usual.
  • Remember to keep your child’s follow-up appointment with the doctor.
  • Seek medical attention if your child becomes more unwell or lethargic.


How can I prevent my child from getting a urinary tract infection?

  • For infants and young toddlers, change their diapers frequently.
  • Ensure that your child practises good hygiene all the time.
  • Instruct your child to wash his or her hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
  • Keep your child’s genital area clean. If your child is a girl, have her wipe her genital area from front to back every time she uses the toilet.
  • Ensure that your child wears cotton underpants and changes them daily.
  • Do not put bubble bath or bath oil in your child’s bath.
  • Encourage your child to go to the toilet regularly and not to “hold in” the urine as this can encourage bacteria to grow in the bladder.
  • Ensure that your child drinks plenty of fluids and is well hydrated.
  • Constipation may prevent proper urine flow. To prevent constipation, include cereals, whole wheat bread, vegetables and fruits in your child’s diet and encourage adequate fluid intake. Do not give your child laxatives unless recommended by the doctor.


Back to top


Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians, specialty nurses, dietitians, social workers, psychologists, child life therapists and research staff specialising in children's kidney and transplantation. We care for infants, children and adolescents with the full range of diseases involving the kidneys and urinary tracts, hypertension and electrolyte disorders.


Click here to find out more about our Paediatric Nephrology, Dialysis and Renal Transplantation team.


The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.