5 Signs of Kidney Infection in Children

Diagnosing kidney infections in infants and young children can be challenging due to the less specific symptoms. Recognizing and understanding these symptoms can assist parents in promptly seeking medical attention for their children.

5 Signs of Kidney Infection in Children

Kidney infection, also known as renal infection, is a form of urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by E. coli bacteria. According to the National Health Service (NHS), children under the age of two are at higher risk of developing kidney infections.

The majority of kidney infections are attributed to bacteria residing in the bowel. Despite the protective measures of the immune system, infection can transpire when bacteria adhere to the urinary tract lining. Diagnosing kidney infections in infants and young children can be challenging due to the less specific symptoms. Occasionally, fever is the sole indicator.

Symptoms of kidney infection in children include:


Children typically don’t develop high fevers with a bladder infection, but they may have a slight increase in body temperature that persists throughout the illness. Fever may be accompanied by chills or shivering. While not all bladder infections progress to kidney infections, parents should remain vigilant for any signs of a kidney infection and promptly report them to a doctor.

Frequent Urination

Children with kidney infections may experience an increased urge to urinate. Additionally, they may feel a burning sensation or irritation during urination, which stems from an irritated urethra. While frequent or painful urination is indicative of a simple bladder infection, it can also occur in more severe kidney infections.


Children suffering from a kidney infection may refuse to eat or drink and often exhibit irritability. They may also experience vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. In younger children, signs of jaundice (yellowish discoloration) may be present.

Abdominal Pain

Complaints of frequent stomach aches in children may indicate a kidney infection. The abdomen of children with kidney infections may be tender to touch, and they may frequently hold their stomachs and show disinterest in activities they usually enjoy.

Blood in Urine

Children with kidney infections may have blood in their urine, which may also have a foul or strong odor. Pus may be present in the urine as well. In such cases, parents should promptly contact a pediatrician or schedule an appointment for examination. Cramps in the lower back or lower abdomen may also be experienced.

Other Symptoms

Extreme irritability, refusal to eat, loose bowel movements, and complaints of symptoms resembling a general illness could indicate a kidney infection in children. However, a child experiencing urinary issues is most likely suffering from an infection. These symptoms should not be taken lightly and should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.

Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of kidney infection in children can help parents seek prompt medical treatment. While most kidney infections are not serious, they can be painful and potentially lead to more severe conditions such as permanent kidney damage and blood poisoning (sepsis). If a pediatrician suspects a kidney infection, they will likely prescribe a urine test to confirm the diagnosis.