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Urinary Tract Infections in Children (cont.)

Home Treatment

Starting home treatment at the first signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) in your child may prevent the problem from getting worse and help clear up your child's infection.

  • Encourage—but do not force—your child to drink extra fluids as soon as you notice the symptoms and for the next 24 hours. This will help make the urine less concentrated and wash out the infection-causing bacteria. Extra fluids may change some of the ways your child's body naturally fights infection. But most doctors recommend drinking a lot of fluids when you have a UTI. Do not give your child caffeinated or carbonated beverages, which can irritate the bladder.
  • Encourage your child to urinate often and to empty his or her bladder each time.

Note: Remember that home treatment is not a substitute for professional care and evaluation. If you think your child may have a UTI, a doctor should see him or her right away.

Medications

Oral antibiotic medicine usually is effective in treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). In many cases, if the symptoms and urinalysis suggest a UTI, the doctor will start medicine without waiting for the results of a urine culture.

The doctor may give intravenous (IV) antibiotics if your baby is:

  • Younger than 3 months.
  • Too ill or nauseated to take oral medicine.
  • Very sick with a severe kidney infection.

The doctor will stop the IV medicine and begin oral medicine treatment after your child is stabilized and feeling better.

Preventive antibiotics

To prevent kidney damage that can result from recurrent infection, the doctor may prescribe long-term treatment with antibiotics for children who are at risk for repeat infections. The doctor may consider preventive antibiotics:

  • While waiting for the results of tests done after treatment for a child's first UTI.
  • If tests done after treatment for a child's first UTI show a structural problem in the urinary tract, such as vesicoureteral reflux, that increases the child's risk for recurrent UTIs.
  • For children who have frequent UTIs, with or without an abnormality of the urinary tract.

Preventive treatment may last from several months to several years. Experts disagree about the best approach. Some doctors believe that long-term use of low-dose antibiotics can safely prevent UTIs in children, especially in children who have vesicoureteral reflux.3 Whether long-term antibiotics prevent kidney damage needs more study. Some doctors are more hesitant about prescribing antibiotics for long-term use because of increasing concern about the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Medication Choices

Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that cause UTIs.

What To Think About

Give your child the antibiotics as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of medicine. Your child may begin to feel better soon after starting the medicine. But if you stop giving your child the medicine too soon, the infection may return or get worse. Also, not taking the full course of medicine encourages the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This makes antibiotics less effective and future bacterial infections harder to treat.

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