Conditions

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections

Of all the embarrassing conditions, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be among the most awkward for us to discuss, and it’s just the same for children and teenagers. It’s estimated that around one in 10 girls and one in 30 boys will have a UTI before they reach 16, and the under-fives are the most commonly affected group. So what are UTIs, how do they occur and how are they treated?

UTIs are caused when bacteria gets into the urinary tract – the organs that enable the body to process and get rid of waste, including the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder and the urethra – the tube which actually carries waste to the penis or vagina.

The most common cause of infection is the bacteria E.coli, which can live in the area around the rectum and genitals. The cause of an infection might be not going to the toilet often enough, children leaving the toilet before they’ve really finished, or the urinary tract inside the body not functioning properly. Urine itself is sterile and contains no germs, but in the case of infection, bacteria comes into contact with urine and enters the body by travelling up the urethra to the bladder (a urine infection here is called cystitis) or, more seriously, affecting the kidneys.

The symptoms of any UTI aren’t very pleasant. They can include a fever, feeling sick and vomiting, pain when going to the toilet, difficulty controlling urination, cloudy or bloody urine which smells and a pain in the lower chest or abdomen. In infants there may just be sickness, diarrhoea, lack of appetite and a fever.

Your doctor will be able to confirm that it’s a UTI by taking a urine sample, and then prescribe a course of antiobiotics, which are usually rapidly effective. It’s important to get UTI’s treated quickly as there is a danger that they can cause long term damage to the kidneys and also high blood pressure.

Though there’s always a possibility that any child might get a UTI, there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Make sure they spend as long as they need to on the toilet and understand the importance of hygiene and cleaning themselves properly. (Girls, whose bodies naturally make them more prone than boys, should wipe from front to back.) Treat constipation quickly, as this can raise the risk of UTI, and always keep kids well-hydrated, as drinking plenty of fluid helps keep bowel movements regular and healthy.

What the Men in White Coats Say

Comments and Questions

Comments & Questions are now archived, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hi my 4 year old has had problems with his water works for nearly 2 months now, has been given 3 lots of antibiotics, but hasnt cleared it up. Ive been told that his foreskin is to tight and maybe the start of the problem, he goes to the toilet every 5 minutes and sometimes more often than that, its exhausting. Im so worried as Ikknow it can cause long term problems, his personality has changed to, hes not the happy little boy hes always been, which is understandable. Any advice wud be great. Doctors just fob me off with more antibiotics!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I'm suffering from a uti at the moment and it's not pleasant! I've had milder ones before but this has been something else! I've felt sick, had lower right back pain, pain under my ribs on my right side, tired, mild fever first thing in the morning and at night and also had stomach cramps.... About 2 months ago I was hospitalised due to severe constipation and needed an enema. Since then I've suffered with stomach cramps. The hospital gave me Buscopan and pain relief and said it was side effects from the enema. I've had slight pain on urination on and off since my hospital stay and there was me thinking it was my bowels. So a few days ago I got really bad pain when passing urine and burning was unbearable. I got some sodium citrate which helped a lot but I was feverish. I went to the docs yesterday and it's a nasty uti! Docs gave me Trimethroprim and they started working straight away. I feel better today than I have in 2 months!!! Still get little twinges in my abdomen but nothing like I have been getting. Pain in back and side has gone too and no longer feverish. Doc said I'm lucky that it didn't make me really ill with my kidneys....





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

my 6 month old son constantly plays with his penis even if he is wearng underwear. is this a symptom of any infection. his urine sample was tested a month ago and it seemed to be normal. can any one help me to stop him do that.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I am 16 and I have cloudy urine I don't see blood in my urine or any pain. When I drink too much water I see less white stuff in my urine and sometimes no cloudiness'. Could this be kindney infection or uti? Please reply asap





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My 9 year old son complained of pain and a white discharge when he peed, and complains of belly pain. Are these common symptoms of a UTI, or could there be another problem?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My daughter is 7! She has on of smelt very fishy her urine! Sometimes it seems as if the smell is coming out of her skin! The smell is so strong that if she even has a trickle in her knickers u can smell her from a distance! I no all the obvious things it could b like UTI! Iv been to the doctors and had her urine tested and it came back clear! I was so up set because surly that can not b right? I really don't no what to do any suggestions plz? Iv also done the making sure she drinks plenty





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi I, not a dr but does your daughter eat a lt of fish? When my daughter eats fish fingers, or prawns you can smell it very strong in her wee.

hi my daughter is 14 years old, she had bad lower abdominal pains for a couple of days before it moved to the lower right side, and she was very tender to touch. On recommendation from our GP who I contacted by phone just as surgery was closing, we took her to A + E. A dipstick test of urine showed a slight trace of something but as they were concerned with the right side pain they decided to admit her incase it was her appendix. Another urine sample taken the following morning on request by the surgical team showed that it was positive. She was started on a 3day course of Trimethoprim, and given paracetomal and codeine. She has been off the antibiotics for 4 days now and she doesn't feel any better and is still having pain. Although she is eating she feels full and has lost 4lbs in weight in just over a week. We have put in another urine sample that has been sent away to be tested but haven't received any results yet. What should I do now.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi, my daughter is 3 and was diagnosed with cystitis. The bad odour and discomfort cleared up while she was taking the antibiotics but a few days later she has really really strong fishy smelling urine but no other symptoms. Does this sound like the infection hasnt cleared or could it be something else? I do make a conscious effort to get her to drink water but her favourite drink is milk so she does drink a lot of it. Could this have anything to do with the smell? Thank you





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My 13 month old daughter has had a urine infection. I have recieved an appointment for her at the hospital with the paediatrician. I'm unsure why this is! Can any one tell me? The appointment is a month away and I'm worried, should I be concerned something more is wrong with her?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I'm in my mid 20's and sufferd a server kidny infection in march/april since then I've had 2 utis and think I now have another. I'm getting worried about my health is this a bad sign? I will be going to my doctors in the week hopefully I can get an appointment.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here


More Information

  1. Anal Fissures

    In Conditions - An anal fissure is a rip, tear or ulcer in the lining of the anal c…

  2. Bedwetting

    In Conditions - Bedwettting, sometimes referred to by doctors as 'enuresis', is one…

  3. Constipation

    In Conditions - Constipation means they find gong to the toilet difficult or painfu…

  4. Incontinence

    In Conditions - Faecal incontinence means children involuntarily open their bowels…

  5. Intestinal Worms

    In Conditions - There are many different types of intestinal worms and because chil…

  6. Itchy bum

    In Conditions - Itchy bum, or to give it its medical name 'pruritus ani' means an i…

  7. Should We Be Worried? - Stomach Complaints

    In Videos - Stomach complaints and nausea, both mild and serious, are Dr Christ…

  8. Should We Be Worried? - Worms

    In Videos - Under discussion in this video are parasites: organisms that feed o…

  9. Stretch marks

    In Conditions - Between 75 and 90 per cent of women develop them, usually across th…

  10. Tight foreskin

    In Conditions - The medical name for a tight foreskin is phimosis, and it means tha…

  11. Should We Be Worried? - ENT Infections

    In Videos - Dr Christian discusses the commonest ear, nose and throat infection…


More Information

Content supplied by NHS Choices

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common type of infection that occurs in the urinary tract (see below). The symptoms of an UTI in a child include: Read More »