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Does your child have painful or frequent urination? How can you tell if your child has a urinary or bladder infection or is it something else?  Read more to learn the difference. Still have questions? Fill out the form below and we'll answer them!

painful or frequent urination

Frequent urination, or peeing eight or more times during waking hours, is common in children 5 years of age or older. Causes can include:

  • Constipation
  • Voiding dysfunction
  • Infection of the urinary tract or bladder
  • Diabetes
  • Pollakiuria 


Pollakiuria is also called frequent daytime urination syndrome. It is a common cause of frequent urination in young children. It is most common in kids between the ages of four and six. With pollakiuria, kids urinate small amounts about 10 times to 30 times a day. They might also wake up at night to urinate. With pollakiuria, your child should have no other symptoms and a normal urinalysis. Although sometimes related to stress, no specific trigger is found for many children with pollakiuria. It often goes away in a few weeks or months without any treatment.


Dysuria is when it hurts to pee. It is a fairly common condition. If it just happens once, it is usually not a cause for alarm. But, it could be an infection if:

  • It persists
  • It’s severe
  • Your child has other symptoms too, like fever, blood in the urine, or vomiting

If your child has these symptoms, call your doctor.

urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in kids. UTIs may affect any part of the urinary tract, from the urethra to the kidneys. They are more common in females.

A UTI can happen anywhere along this tract. The lower part, the urethra and bladder, is most commonly involved. This is called cystitis. If the infection travels up the ureters to the kidneys, it's called pyelonephritis. That is usually more serious.

Most UTIs happen when bacteria infect the urinary tract. Some viruses can also cause an infection. Bacteria aren't normally found in pee, but they can easily enter the urinary tract from the skin around the anus.

symptoms include:

  • Pain while peeing
  • Frequent urination
  • Low back pain or abdominal pain in the area of the bladder

UTI symptoms include:

  • Pain while peeing 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Low back pain or abdominal pain in the area of the bladder
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling urine that may look cloudy or contain blood

cause and prevention 

Many UTIs can be prevented by:

  • Changing infants' diapers frequently
  • Encouraging kids to practice good hygiene
  • Instructing kids not to "hold it" when they have to pee. This is because urine that stays in the bladder gives bacteria a good place to grow.

Some UTIs are caused by a congenital condition called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). VUR causes urine to flow from the bladder up the ureters toward the kidneys. Kids with VUR should follow their doctor's treatment plan to prevent getting UTIs over and over.


UTIs are highly treatable, but it's important to catch them early. Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney damage, especially in kids younger than 6. Treatment of UTI depends on where the infection is in the urinary tract. Most UTIs are cured within a week with the right medical treatment.

For uncomplicated cystitis, we recommend 3-7 days of antibiotics.

For pyelonephritis, some can be treated as outpatients but others should be hospitalized. 

bladder infection (cystitis)

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, also known as a bladder infection. It's the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). It mostly affects children and adult women. Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria (typically E. coli) that enter the body through the urethra and spread to the bladder. If not treated, the infection can travel to the kidneys and become a more serious problem.


Symptoms of cystitis include:

  • A persistent urge to urinate (pee)
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Low-grade fever
  • A feeling of pressure or pain in the lower abdomen.

Wetting accidents in toilet-trained children often point to cystitis. For infants and young children, cystitis may be harder to detect because symptoms are less specific. Sometimes fever is the only sign.


Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics. The length of treatment depends on how bad the infection is. It's important to take every dose of antibiotics on time, and to finish all the doses. The infection could come back if your child stops taking the antibiotic too soon. 

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The urology department welcomes phone calls Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. 937-641-3466.

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