UTIs

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS CAN EASILY BE IDENTIFIED AND TREATED

If your child has been dry at night for a consecutive period of more than six months and they begin wetting the bed again, it could be down to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs can result in the frequent need to urinate, even if the bladder is not full, and they can cause bedwetting in young children. In relation to bedwetting, UTIs is predominantly associated with secondary nocturnal enuresis (previously dry, but has started bedwetting again), as opposed to primary nocturnal enuresis (has always wet the bed).

Urinary tract infections are generally not serious – most can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

What causes bedwetting?

If your child is going through a bedwetting phase, you’re probably wondering what’s causing it. The short answer is that it’s usually down to a minor developmental delay, which will straighten itself out over time. It’s quite rare for bedwetting to be caused by an underlying medical condition. The most common form of bedwetting is called primary nocturnal enuresis. This refers to when a child has never been dry at night. Common causes are things like genetics, a neurological development delay between the bladder and brain, or the underproduction of the antidiuretic hormone ADH that signals to the kidneys to produce less urine at night. The other type of bedwetting is secondary nocturnal enuresis. This refers to a child who has been dry for six months or more, and then starts to wet the bed. This is typical the result of underlying medical issues or by emotional factors. For children with primary nocturnal enuresis, it means your child’s bladder capacity has not developed to the point of being able to hold urine overnight. Children who wet the bed at night may have a nervous system that is slow to process the feeling of a full bladder. So your child does not wake up or respond to the messages sent from their bladder to their brain saying its full and needs emptying. As their body matures the messages sent from the bladder start to get through and your child learns to wake and go to the toilet. Most children who experience bedwetting haven’t reached this developmental stage yet. But don’t worry, they’ll get there soon. While deep sleeping certainly plays a role in bedwetting it is not the primary cause of why it happens in the first place. Deep sleeping just makes it even harder for children to response to the signal sent from their bladder telling them to ‘wake-up’. Secondary nocturnal enuresis is a little more complex. If your child has been dry at night for six months and they relapse back to bedwetting, it’s often a sign of emotional problems or stress. Common catalysts include big events, such as moving house, a new sibling, or starting school. Stressful situations, including tension in the home, death of a family member or pet, or being bullied at school can also cause your child to start wetting the bed again. Other causes of secondary bedwetting include minor medical conditions, such as constipation or a urinary tract infection. In very rare cases, bedwetting can be caused by diabetes. One thing to remember through all of this is that the cause is never laziness. It’s important to remain calm and not to take out any frustration on your child, even though it can be a real pain to change sheets every night. Provide some extra support to your child by using DryNites® Night Time Pants or BedMats. It gives them a little more independence and they’re an effective safety net at night.

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UTI SYMPTOMS

There are a number of telltale signs if you suspect your child is suffering from a UTI. The best way to confirm is by taking them straight to your GP for a urine test, but you can also take note of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate, even if nothing comes out
  • Urine has a foul smell
  • Urine is cloudy
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pressure in lower pelvis
  • Fever
  • Bedwetting (if the child was previously dry)

Note that the child doesn’t need to be experiencing all of these symptoms to have a UTI.

TYPES OF UTIs

The urinary tract is comprised of the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. The specific type of UTI contracted will depend on where the infection is focused.

  • Cystitis: Infection of the bladder
  • Pyelonephritis: Infection of the kidneys
  • Urethritis: Infection of the urethra

Cystitis and urethritis are known as lower UTIs, while pyelonephritis is classified as an upper UTI. Upper UTIs have the potential to cause more serious kidney problems, however, the risk is low, especially if treated early.

 

WHAT CAUSES UTIs?

Most UTIs in children are caused by bacteria entering the urethra. This is particularly more common in girls, as their urethras are shorter and more exposed to bacteria from the rectum. Infection can occur when soiled toilet paper makes contact with genitals.

Other causes of UTIs in children are dehydration, constipation, or any obstruction to the usual flow of urine. In sexually active people, UTIs can occur when bacteria are passed on during sexual intercourse.

 

UTI TREATMENT

Treatment of UTIs in most cases is simply a course of antibiotics. Sufferers should feel their symptoms ease within the day of commencement. In the meantime, many people find relief in drinking plenty of water, which can help the flow of bacteria out of the urinary tract. Effervescent powder sachets, such as Ural, are also popular for easing discomfort.

Antibiotics courses for lower UTIs are usually fairly short (3 to 5 days), as opposed to upper UTIs (7 to 10 days).

 

PREVENTING UTIs

After dealing with a UTI, it’s understandable if you never want your child to experience it again. There are no guarantees, but there are a few things you can do to avoid UTIs in the future.

  • Encourage girls to wipe front to back when using the bathroom
  • Encourage boys to clean the area around their foreskin regularly
  • Ensure your child is drinking plenty of water and not becoming dehydrated
  • Take note of your child’s bowel movements and address constipation if it occurs
  • Buy comfortable, cotton underwear for your child, instead of tight-fitting underwear made of synthetic materials.

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