Your child will need to take antibiotic medicines to treat the UTI – these are usually started as soon as possible. Your child should start to feel better within 1 to 2 days.

Some children may benefit from taking a small amount of antibiotics every day to help prevent future UTIs.

Where will my child be treated?

Most children with UTIs can be treated by their family doctor, or general practitioner (GP).

Referral to specialist services

Depending on the results of the tests or whether your child has recurrent UTIs (that keep coming back), your doctor may refer your child to a paediatrician, a children’s doctor, or a paediatric nephrologist, a doctor who treats children with kidney problems.

Hospital treatment

A few children need to go to the hospital for treatment. This is especially the case for:

  • babies under 3 months with serious UTI
  • children with, or at risk of, a kidney infection (pyelonephritis).

Antibiotics to treat UTI

UTIs are usually caused by bacteria. Your child will be prescribed an antibiotic, a medicine that kills the bacteria. Your doctor will decide which antibiotic is best for your child.

Your doctor will usually give you a prescription so your child can start taking the medicine straight away and continue it at home. Antibiotics are normally given by mouth – as liquid medicine, tablets or capsules.

Your child will normally need to take the medicine for a set number of days, depending on his or her symptoms when they first see the doctor – this is usually between three and 10 days .

Medicines for Children | General information about antibiotics

Changing antibiotics

Your doctor will want to start the antibiotic treatment straight away. However, it may take a few days to get the results of the urine culture, which will find out which bacteria are causing the infection. After getting the results of the urine culture, your doctor may want to give your child a different antibiotic if he or she thinks it will work better.

How long will it take for my child to get better?

Your child should start to feel better 1 or 2 days after starting treatment with antibiotics. They should continue taking the antibiotics until the course is completed.

When they start to feel better, they can go to school or nursery. You cannot “catch” UTIs, so your child will not be infectious.

If your child does not get start to get better after 1 or 2 days, contact your doctor for advice.

Other medicines

You can give your child paracetamol to help with the pain and reduce any fever – including when he or she is taking antibiotics. You can get this medicine from your pharmacist in forms that are best for your child. Make sure you follow the instructions given with the medicine.

If you know that your child has a problem with his or her kidneys, or if he or she has asthma, do not give ibuprofen unless your doctor has told you to.

Medicines for Children | Paracetamol for mild-to-moderate pain

Drinking fluids

Your child should drink plenty of water and other fluids such as juice. This will help make sure he or she does not become dehydrated (not enough water in the body).

Antibiotics to prevent future UTIs

Some children may benefit from a very small amount of antibiotic to be taken every night. This is called a prophylactic antibiotic – prophylactic means preventing. Taking a small dose of prophylactic antibiotic will help to prevent further infections. Because the dose is small, there is little chance of developing antibiotic resistance.

Your doctor may prescribe this to your child if they have:

  • recurrent UTIs
  • structural problems of the urinary system –including vesico-ureteral reflux or other types of reflux
  • other problems weeing, such as not being able to empty the bladder

If you think they have a UTI

If your child is taking a prophylactic antibiotic and you think that they have a UTI, follow these steps.

  • do not give more of the prophylactic antibiotic or any other antibiotic.
  • Contact your doctor – you will need to get another urine sample to be tested.
  • If your child does have a UTI, your doctor will prescribe a suitable antibiotic.
  • You may wish to write down the date of the UTI, the urine culture results and the treatment..

Questions to ask the doctor or nurse

  • What treatment will my child need?
  • How will this help my child?
  • What happens next if the first treatment does not work for my child?

Will my child get better?

Children who are treated for UTIs with antibiotics usually get better. In most children the UTI does not keep coming back, and there is very little risk of long-term problems.

Kidney infection

In a few children, the infection can travel to the kidneys (pyelonephritis). This may cause damage to the kidneys.

Kidney damage

A very small number of children with UTIs that are recurrent (keep coming back) or are caused by structural problems in the urinary system develop scars and long-term damage to the kidneys.

In serious cases, this can lead to:

  • chronic kidney disease (CKD) – when the kidneys stop working as well as they should – this usually happens slowly, often over many years
  • acute kidney injury (AKI) – when the kidneys stop working as well as they should over a short period of time; when associated with UTI, the kidney function is normally affected only while they are unwell.

These children will need to go back to the hospital clinic for follow-up appointments and specialist care.

Follow up

Your child will be need to go to follow up appointments if he or she has:

  • recurrent UTIs
  • structural problems in their urinary system, such as reflux or a bladder that does not empty properly
  • abnormal results on the imaging tests – some children may need surgery to treat these problems.

At these appointments, your child may have:

  • their height and weight checked
  • a physical examination
  • urine tests – to check for blood, protein and other substances in the urine
  • blood tests – to check for the amount of protein and other substances in the blood, and measure the kidney function
  • blood pressure measured.

Impact on your child and your family

This may be a stressful experience for your child and the whole family, including other children.

If you have any concerns or need additional support, speak with your doctor or nurse.