Treatment for Bladder Infection in Children
How do health care professionals treat bladder infections in children?
Bladder infections in children are treated with antibiotics, a type of medicine that fights bacteria.
Which antibiotic your child takes is based on age, any allergies to antibiotics, and the type of bacteria causing the UTI. Children older than 2 months usually take an antibiotic by mouth—as a liquid or as a chewable tablet.
Your child may go to a hospital for intravenous (IV) antibiotics if the child is younger than 2 months old or vomiting. IV medicines are given through a vein.
Your child should start to feel better within a day or two, but it’s important to take every dose of the antibiotic on time and to finish all the medicine. The infection could come back if your child stops taking the antibiotic too soon.
The length of treatment depends on
- how severe the infection is
- whether a child’s symptoms and infection go away
- whether a child has repeated bladder infections
- whether the child has vesicoureteral reflux or another problem in the urinary tract
Children should drink plenty of liquids and urinate often to speed healing. Drinking water is best. Ask your health care professional how much liquid your child should drink.
A heating pad on a child’s back or abdomen may help ease pain from a kidney or bladder infection.
How can I help my child prevent a bladder infection?
Drinking enough liquids, following good bathroom and diapering habits, wearing loose-fitting clothes, and getting treated for related health problems may help prevent a UTI in a child or teen.
Be sure your child drinks enough liquids
Drinking more liquids may help flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Talk with a health care professional about how much liquid your child should drink, and which beverages are best to help prevent a repeat UTI.
Follow good bathroom and diapering habits
Some children simply don’t urinate often enough. Children should urinate often and when they first feel the need to go. Bacteria can grow and cause an infection when urine stays in the bladder too long. Caregivers should change diapers often for infants and toddlers, and should clean the genital area well. Gentle cleansers that do not irritate the skin are best.
Your child should always wipe from front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement. This step is most important after a bowel movement to keep bacteria from getting into the urethra and bladder.
Hard stools can press against the urinary tract and block the flow of urine, allowing bacteria to grow. Helping your child have regular bowel movements can prevent constipation.
Wear loose-fitting clothing
Consider having children wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes so air can keep the area around the urethra dry.
Treat related health problems
When a child’s bladder doesn’t work exactly as it should—called dysfunctional voiding—treatments may help the bladder work better and prevent repeated infections. The muscles that control urination may be out of sync. Or, your child’s bladder may be overactive or underactive.
Health care professionals can treat these types of bladder problems with medicines, behavior changes, or both. Children often grow out of these bladder problems naturally over time.
If your child has vesicoureteral reflux, a urinary tract blockage, or an anatomical problem, see a pediatric urologist or other specialist. Treating these conditions may help prevent repeated bladder infections.
Diabetes and other health conditions can increase the risk for a bladder infection. Ask your child’s health care professional how to reduce the risk of developing a bladder infection.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
The NIDDK would like to thank:
Saul P. Greenfield, MD, FAAP, FACS, State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine; Jeffrey M. Saland, MD, MSCR, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai