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Urinary Tract Infections in Children - Treatment Overview

Antibiotic medicine and home care are effective in treating most urinary tract infections (UTIs) in infants and children. The main goal of treatment is to prevent kidney damage and its short-term and long-term complications by eliminating the infection quickly and completely. Early evaluation and treatment are very important. Do not delay calling a doctor if you think your baby or young child may have a UTI.

Initial treatment

Infants and young children with urinary tract infections (UTIs) need early treatment to prevent kidney damage. Your doctor is likely to base the first treatment decision on your child's symptoms and urinalysis results rather than waiting for the results of a urine culture.

Treatment for most children with UTIs is oral antibiotics and home care.

If your child is younger than 3 months, is too nauseated or sick to take oral medicines, or has an impaired immune system, the doctor may give your child a shot of antibiotics. Or your child may need a brief hospital stay and a short course of intravenous (IV) antibiotics. After your child's fever and other symptoms improve and your child is feeling better, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.

The number of days a child will need to take these medicines depends on the illness, the child's age, and the type of antibiotic.

Treatment if the condition gets worse or recurs

If your child's urinary tract infection (UTI) does not improve after treatment with antibiotics, your child needs further evaluation and may need more antibiotics. Your child may have a structural problem that is making the infection hard to treat. Or the cause of the infection may be different from the types of bacteria that usually cause UTIs.

If the infection spreads and affects kidney function or causes widespread infection (sepsis), your child may be hospitalized. These complications are rare, but they can be very serious. Children with impaired immune systems, untreated urinary tract obstructions, and other conditions that affect the kidneys or bladder are at higher risk for complications.

Recurrent UTIs increase the risk of long-term kidney damage and high blood pressure. The doctor may prescribe preventive antibiotic therapy after treatment for a first UTI if your child has a structural problem, such as vesicoureteral reflux, that increases the risk of repeat infections, or if your child has a few UTIs in a 6- to 12-month period.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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