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What are the Signs of UTIs in Children?

Most often when you have a UTI, the linings of your bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys become red and swollen. Older children may complain of pain in the low stomach area or back, as well needing to urinate often. Your child may cry when he or she urinates, or complain that it hurts to urinate and pass only a few drops. He or she may also have trouble controlling urine and may have accidents or wet the bed.

If your child is an infant or too young to tell you how he or she feels, the signs are likely to be vague and not linked to the urinary tract. Your child may just have a high fever, or be grouchy and not eat. Sometimes a child will have only a low-grade fever, loose stools, or just not seem healthy. You may notice that the diaper urine "smells bad."

If your child has a high fever and appears sick without a clear reason (such as a runny nose or ear ache), you should take him or her to see a health care provider. If the cause is a kidney infection and it is not treated at once, the bacteria may spread to the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection or lasting kidney damage.

Here are some signs of a UTI:

  • Pain, burning, or a stinging feeling when urinating
  • Urinating often or feeling an urgent need to urinate, even without passing urine
  • Foul-smelling urine that may look cloudy or have blood in it
  • Fever
  • Pain in the low back or around the bladder