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Urinary Tract Infections: What every parent needs to know

what every parent needs to know about urinary tract infections in little girls

If you have a young daughter, this post is for you. My daughter got so sick because of a urinary tract infection that went to her kidneys. She could have died of sepsis when she was 6 years old. Thank God she survived.

I am going to tell you what happened so you can know what to look for and why this happens to little girls. 

First of all, I’m writing this because I just heard two more stories of little kids dying of sepsis. One of the articles was called “Little Girl Dies 5 Days After Visiting Disney World.” God be with that mama and that sweet family. My heart breaks for her. But reading that article is what prompted me to share my own story.

I know of a third case where the little girl didn’t die, but her limbs died as her body worked to preserve her organs. Because of sepsis, she now has no lower arms or lower legs. 

I’m not going to give you the medical approach to this topic because I’m not a doctor. I’m giving you the mama approach, because I am a mama, and mamas need to know what they can do to take care of their kids—the preventative side of this conversation.

WHO IS AT RISK?

What kind of little girl doesn’t tell her mama that it hurts when she goes pee?

Smart girls.

Five and six year old girls who just started school.

Responsible girls.

Girls who think they can solve things on their own.

Girls whose mamas are busy with other kids.

Girls who don’t like to ask their teachers if they can go pee during class.

Girls who think they will solve the problem of painful pee by stopping the intake of water. 

Girls who tend to say “no” when you ask them if they need to pee. 

Girls who tend to say “I just went” when you ask them if they went pee. 

Determined girls.

Strong-willed girls.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS of U.T.I.?

The first sign, if you are lucky to get it, is that your little girl will tell you it hurts when she goes pee. My daughter told me this, but I did not think it was a huge deal because I had that same thing when I was a little girl, and it simply went away after a few days. 

You have to take this sign VERY SERIOUSLY. It probably means she has a urinary tract infection, which is very common for little girls who are in elementary school. And it’s a precursor to a kidney infection, which leads to sepsis, which leads to death.

If you miss this sign, the next sign will probably be flu-like symptoms with abdominal pain.

My daughter vomited in the middle of the night. No one else in our family was sick, no one else got food poisoning, no one caught her “flu” because it wasn’t the flu. Her urinary tract infection had progressed to a kidney infection, which is what we found out after two weeks of what we thought was the flu. 

BIG SIGN: her vomiting was on and off. It was one day, then skipped a day, then she vomited again. As far as I know, this does not happen with the flu or food poisoning. 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

After about one week of watching her extreme fatigue, stomach pain, abdominal pain, and vomiting, my husband took her to urgent care (but sadly did not remember to mention that she had said she had pain when she urinated.) They told him she had the flu that was going around and sent her home and said to wait another week and she should be better. 

Another week went by and she was worse than ever. I had never seen my child so lethargic. She could barely walk because it made her too tired. She would lie on the couch and barely move. She would watch TV with her back to the TV because it hurt to lie the other way. She refused to eat or drink. This was NOT the flu. 

We took her in to see her pediatric doctor and the doctors went in to panic mode, calling in other doctors and nurses, because her vitals showed “she was dying,” as they put it. They decided to give her a shot of antibiotics in her thigh.

After monitoring her for a few hours, they allowed her to go home with some frozen electrolyte juice pops but made her promise to drink lots and lots of chicken broth over the next 24 hours. If she did not improve, she had to go to the ER. 

My strong-willed, smart girl did not want another shot, so she agreed to drink as much chicken broth as she possibly could over the next 24 hours. She had lots of frozen juice pops. She improved. 

We prayed a lot. 

After a round of antibiotics, which she hated, she eventually healed and went back to normal. 

After that experience, every time she refused to drink water or use the restroom, we reminded her of how bad her kidney infection was. She did not want to get sick again, so she drank the water and went to the bathroom. Now she is 14 and she FINALLY drinks water without me reminding her.

HOME REMEDIES

GET HER HYDRATED. She will not want to go pee if she has a UTI because it hurts, but you must make her drink lots of fluids. Lots and lots of water, fresh fruit like watermelon, vegetables, and frozen fruit juice pops. Homemade chicken broth is an excellent source of fluid for kids. 

STOP THE JUNK FOOD. Her body needs to fight the infection, so don’t add junk to clog the process. If she is not hungry, give her chicken broth.

Mamas, don’t feed children a bunch of junk food and candy that their kidneys can’t handle. We learned the hard way and we don’t want to see your children sick like ours was.

HOW CAN MOMS AND DADS HELP PREVENT U.T.I. AND KIDNEY INFECTIONS?

The best way to help prevent urinary tract infections is to:

Pay attention to how much water your daughter is drinking every day.

Make sure she is using the restroom first thing in the morning every single day, before bed every single night, and right after school gets out.

Talk to her school teacher about the restroom rules and make sure your child understands that she is allowed to use the restroom during class.

Talk to your daughter about how she feels about using the restroom at school. 

When you are out and about or at home, make her go pee, even if she says she already went or that she doesn’t have to go.

Feed her lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which naturally contain lots of water.

Tell her it’s very important to let you know if it hurts when she goes pee. 

Give her lots of attention if she says that it hurts when she goes pee. Make sure she goes regularly regardless of the pain, and give her lots of fluids. Pray for her and with her!

I’m not claiming to be a medical expert. I am a mother who is so thankful to God that my daughter survived her kidney infection and that we caught it before it went septic. We were just at the edge of sepsis, according to the docs.

Maybe this post will help one mother or father who has a little first grade girl who is too shy to raise her hand to use the bathroom during class . . . or too nervous to ask to get out of line to go pee at Disneyland.

I pray it does.

Please share.

God bless you guys. 

xo, 

Chelsea

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This is post #8 of 40 in my blog series #40before40, What I’m Loving and What I’m Learning. I turn 40 in May!

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