What is the urinary tract?
The "urinary tract" consists of the various organs of the body that produce, store, and get rid of urine. These include the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra.
Our kidneys are chemical filters for our blood. About one-quarter of the blood pumped by the heart goes through the kidneys. The kidneys filter this blood, and the "filtrate" is processed to separate out waste products and excess amounts of minerals, sugar, and other chemicals. Since it sees so much of the body's blood flow, the kidneys also contain pressure-sensitive tissue which helps the body control blood pressure, and some of the minerals and water are saved or discarded partly to keep your blood pressure in the proper range.
Who is affected by urinary tract infections?
UTI are uncommon in children younger than 3 to 5 years, but unlikely in boys at any age, unless an obstruction is present. They are much more common in girls as a result of a shorter urinary tract. Uncircumcised males are more likely to develop UTI than circumcised males. Children with a complete or partial blockage in the urinary tract are more likely to develop UTI.
What are the different types of urinary tract infections?
A urinary tract infection may involve different sections of the urinary tract including the following:
- urethritis - an infection of the urethra, the hollow tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
- cystitis - a bacterial infection in the bladder that often has moved up from the urethra.
- pyelonephritis - an infection of the kidneys that is usually a result of an infection that has spread up the tract, or from an obstruction in the urinary tract. An obstruction in the urinary tract causes urine to back flow into the ureters and kidneys.
What are the signs of urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection causes irritation of the lining of the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys, just like the inside of the nose or the throat becomes irritated with a cold. If your child is an infant or only a few years old, the signs of a urinary tract infection may not be clear, since children that young cannot tell you exactly how they feel. Your child may have a high fever, be irritable, or not eat.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
The following are the most common symptoms of UTI. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- abdominal pain
- abdominal fullness
- foul smelling urine
- poor growth
- weight loss or failure to gain weight
- poor feeding
Treatment for UTI:
Specific treatment for a urinary tract infection will be determined by your child's physician based on:
- your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the condition
- your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
Preventing urinary tract infections:
The following may help to prevent your child from developing urinary tract infections:
- Have your child take a shower instead of a bath.
- Instruct your child to urinate when he/she has the urge and not to resist.
- Teach your child to wipe his/her bottom from front to back. If your son is uncircumcised, he should be taught how to retract the foreskin on his penis and clean himself. The foreskin should never be retracted forcibly. Do not allow the foreskin to stay retracted for long periods as this may shut off the blood supply causing pain and possible injury.
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