A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system which includes the kidneys, ureters (the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), bladder and urethra(the tube that carries urine out of the body). Women are at higher risk of developing urinary tract infections than men. Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. The most common UTIs mainly affect the bladder and urethra. Spread of infection to the kidneys can have serious consequences.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections may include:

  1. A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  2. A burning sensation when urinating
  3. Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  4. Urine that appears cloudy
  5. Urine that appears red, bright pink or brownish in colour which is a sign of blood in the urine
  6. Strong-smelling urine
  7. Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone

Urinary Tract Infections in children:
UTIs are more common in boys up to the age of six months old, but after this they tend to be more common in girls. It is estimated that around 1 in 10 girls and 1 in 30 boys will have had a UTI by the time they turn 16. It can be difficult to tell whether a child has a UTI, because the symptoms can be vague and young children cannot easily communicate how they feel. However symptoms in children may present as follows:

  1. A high temperature (fever)
  2. Vomiting
  3. Fatigue
  4. Irritability
  5. Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  6. Frequent need to urinate
  7. Bed wetting
  8. Abdominal pain
  9. Unpleasant smelling urine
  10. Blood in the urine

Types of urinary tract infection

Each type of UTI may result in more-specific signs and symptoms, depending on which part of your urinary tract is infected.

  • Infection of the bladder (cystitis).
    This type of UTI is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but not all people who develop cystitis are sexually active. Women are at a higher risk because of the short distance from the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder. Symptoms of cystitis may include:

i. Pelvic pressure

ii. Lower abdomen discomfort

iii. Frequent, painful urination

iv. Blood in urine

  • Infection of the urethra (urethritis).
    This type of UTI can occur when bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma, can cause urethritis. Symptoms of urethritis may include:

i. Burning with urination

ii. A discharge

Infections of the urethra and the bladder are usually referred to as lower urinary tract infections and usually resolve without complications when treated promptly

  • Infection of the kidney (acute pyelonephritis) Symptoms may include:

i. Upper back and side (flank) pain

ii. High fever

iii. Shaking and chills

iv. Nausea

v. Vomiting

Prevention and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections:

For children:

  1. Encouraging girls to wipe their bottom from front to back and boys to clean around their foreskin regularly
  2. Making sure your child drinks enough and goes to the toilet regularly
  3. Buying loose-fitting cotton underwear for your child instead of underwear made from nylon or other synthetic materials
  4. Include enough fibre in your child’s diet to help prevent constipation

Complications of a UTI include:

•Recurrent infections, especially in women who experience three or more UTIs.

• Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to an untreated UTI.

•Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.

• Urethral narrowing (stricture) in men from recurrent urethritis.

• Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection works its way to the kidneys.