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Kidney Infection in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a type of urinary tract infection, or UTI. Most UTIs are bladder infections. Kidney infections tend to make people much sicker than bladder infections do. A kidney infection is also more serious because it can cause lasting damage if it is not treated quickly.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child antibiotics as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Have your child drink plenty of water each day. This helps your child urinate often, which clears bacteria from the system. If your child has a condition that makes you have to limit fluids, talk with your child's doctor.
  • Have your child urinate often. Your child should try to empty his or her bladder each time.
  • To relieve pain, have your child take a hot bath, or lay a hot water bottle over your child's lower belly. Keep a cloth between the hot water bottle and your child's skin.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever or pain. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain or fever medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain or fever medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

To help prevent kidney infections

  • Help your child avoid constipation. Schedule washroom time every day. Encourage your child to use the washroom if needed at school, rather than waiting until he or she returns home.
  • Teach your child to urinate when feeling the urge and not to hold urine for a long time. Have your child urinate before going to sleep.
  • If your child has symptoms of a bladder infection, such as burning when urinating or having to urinate often, call your doctor or nurse advice line so you can treat the problem before it gets worse. If you do not treat a bladder infection quickly, it can spread to the kidney.
  • For boys, keep the tip of the penis clean.
  • For girls, wipe from front to back after going to the washroom.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms that a kidney infection is getting worse. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when he or she urinates.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in the urine.
    • A fever.
  • Your child is vomiting or nauseated.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.