constipation and urinary tract infections

It’s heartbreaking when your child is suffering from constipation, but it’s even worse when constipation is accompanied by a urinary tract infection (UTI). Parents want to do everything they can to make their child feel more comfortable, as both UTIs and constipation cause uncomfortable – even painful – symptoms.

The Correlation Between Constipation and UTIs

Constipation is a common contributor to urinary problems. Because the bladder and bowel are controlled by the same nerves and are next to each other in the body, there is a corollary relationship between bladder and bowel health.

Children use the same muscles to hold both urine and stool, so if they have a UTI and are reluctant to pee it can lead to problems with constipation, and vice versa.

In fact, children with constipation are nearly 7 times more likely to develop lower urinary tract dysfunction, and the more severe the constipation, the more severe the UTI as well.

Children, especially when potty training, are susceptible to stool withholding and infrequent voiding of the bowel and bladder, which are contributory factors in constipation and UTIs.

Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection in Children

When a child has a UTI, their bladder and kidneys become swollen, causing pain and discomfort. Fevers may accompany a UTI and your child may have a reduced appetite. Bed wetting accidents may also occur. If your kid feels unwell and has a fever with no other obvious cause, a UTI may be the underlying reason.

Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Pain, burning, and/or stinging when passing urine
  • Frequent or urgent need to pee, especially if not much urine comes out
  • Low-grade or high fever
  • Complaints of lower abdominal or back pain
  • Unpleasant odor to urine
  • Cloudy urine or urine that contains trace amounts of blood
  • Avoidance of using the bathroom or crying/complaining when urinating

Is Constipation Causing My Child’s UTI?

If your child is exhibiting any of the above-listed symptoms and is also experiencing trouble going poop, constipation may be causing or exacerbating the problem. Children with chronic or frequent constipation are more prone to UTIs, so it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms of both.

The symptoms of constipation in children include:

  • Irregular or infrequent bowel movements
  • Hard, abnormally large, or pellet-shaped stools
  • Straining when going poop
  • Reduced appetite
  • Abdominal bloating and/or pain
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Reluctance to have bowel movements
  • Incomplete evacuation of the bowel

When too much stool is in the rectum and colon due to constipation, pressure is placed on the bladder, making it difficult for the bladder to completely empty. Urine that stays in the bladder too long promotes bacterial growth that can lead to a UTI.

Preventative Measure for UTIs in Kids

If constipation is a contributing factor with your child’s UTIs, it’s important to take measures to prevent and avoid constipation, such as adequate hydration (especially during the summer months), proper nutrition, adequate daily fiber intake, daily exercise, and a regular bowel routine.

It’s important to be informed about at-home remedies you can use to prevent and address your child’s constipation, and to seek advice from a pediatrician if you suspect your kid is constipated.

If your child is prone to UTIs there are some preventative measures you can take to maintain a healthy bladder.

Infants and Toddlers: Be sure your child gets frequent diaper and/or pull-up changes to avoid a buildup of bacteria that can cause a UTI. When young children are potty training, include proper bathroom hygiene as part of the process. Instruct girls to wipe  from front to back to keep bacteria in the rectum from spreading to the urethra.

School-aged Children: When children start preschool or school they can develop bathroom anxiety and may be reluctant to use a bathroom that is unfamiliar to them. This may cause them to withhold urine and can lead to a UTI. Work with caregivers at daycare or school to ensure there are adequate bathroom breaks and work with them to help reduce your kid’s anxiety.

Adequate Hydration: Drinking adequate amounts of non-diuretic fluids is essential in the prevention of UTIs (and also constipation). Make sure your child drinks frequently throughout the day to encourage frequent urination.

Bathroom Routine: A regular bathroom routine is important to maintain both bladder and bowel health. Establishing a regular routine for using the bathroom – even if your child says they don’t have to ‘go’ – builds healthy habits and helps prevent urine from sitting in the bladder for too long. Be sure to have your kid empty their bladder both before and after their bedtime routine.

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Disclaimer:

The material contained is for reference purposes only. Alliance Labs, LLC and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2020 Summit Pharmaceuticals and Alliance Labs, LLC.

 

Sources:

  1. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-urinary-tract-infections-in-children/#:~:text=Constipation%20is%20a%20frequent%20cause,bacteria%20that%20may%20cause%20infection.
  2. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/urinary-tract-infection-utis
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5046079/
  4. https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-tract-infections-in-children
  5. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/urinary.html

 

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