Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections can affect both children and adults. On this page, you'll find information about urinary tract infections in people of all ages.
You'll also find links to places where you can find out more about urinary tract infections. If you believe you or your child is affected, remember to contact your general practitioner for tailored advice and treatment.
Urinary tract infections in children
A urine infection is caused by germs (bacteria) that get into the urine. Most urine infections are due to bacteria that normally live in the large bowel.
They cause no harm in the bowel but can cause infection if they get into other parts of the body. Some bacteria lie around the back passage (anus) after a stool (faeces) has been passed. These bacteria can sometimes travel to the urethra (the tube that passes urine from the bladder) and into the bladder. Some bacteria thrive in urine and multiply quickly to cause infection.
Urine infections often cause painful burning and stinging when passing urine, a need to pass urine frequently, fevers, nausea and vomiting. A urine sample is needed to confirm if a urine infection is present.
The infection is commonly just in the bladder (when it is called cystitis), but may travel higher up to affect one or both kidneys as well(this is called pyelonephritis).
Nearly 1 in 20 boys, and more than 1 in 10 girls, have at least one urine infection by the time they are 16 years old. Children aged under 5 years are the most commonly affected.
Urinary tract infections in adults
Most urine infections are caused by germs (bacteria) that come from your own bowel. They cause no harm in your bowel, but can cause infection if they get into other parts of your body.
Some bacteria lie around your back passage (anus) after you pass a stool (faeces). These bacteria sometimes travel to your urethra (the tube from the bladder that passes out urine) and into your bladder. Some bacteria thrive in urine and multiply quickly to cause infection.
A urine infection is often called a urinary tract infection (UTI) by doctors. When the infection is just in the bladder and urethra, this is called a lower UTI. If it travels up to affect one or both kidneys as well then it is called an upper UTI This can be more serious than lower UTIs, as the kidneys can be damaged by the infection.