Most antibiotics come in pill or liquid form. Some antibiotics may be
given as a shot. The doctor may give antibiotics in the vein (intravenously) if your child is younger than 2 to 3
months old, is very ill or nauseated, or has a severe kidney infection.
Why It Is Used
Antibiotics treat a UTI and prevent
complications of infection such as kidney damage.
prevent infections in children who have had or may be at risk for recurrent
UTIs. The doctor might prescribe preventive antibiotic therapy if your child
Doctors are undecided about how long a child should take
preventive antibiotics. But some experts believe that long-term use of low-dose
antibiotics can safely prevent UTIs in children, especially in children who have vesicoureteral reflux.1 Whether long-term antibiotics prevent kidney damage needs more study.
How Well It Works
Antibiotics are effective in curing
most UTIs. Your child should feel better within 48 hours after starting the medicine. If your child doesn't feel better, call your doctor. Your doctor
probably will prescribe a different antibiotic.
Common side effects of antibiotics used to
treat UTIs include:
Nausea or vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions to antibiotics are unusual but do
occur. They include:
Being very tired.
Fever or chills.
rashes, hives, or itching.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Give your child the antibiotics as
directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your
child needs to take the full course of medicine. If your child does not take
all of the antibiotics as prescribed, the infection may return. Not taking the
full course of medicine also encourages the development of bacteria that are
resistant to antibiotics. This makes antibiotics less
effective and bacterial infections harder to treat. Antibiotic
resistance among bacteria that cause UTIs has increased steadily in recent
decades. Your doctor may have to prescribe different antibiotics, and different
combinations of antibiotics, to find the right medicine that will kill the
bacteria causing your child's UTI.
Craig JC, et al. (2009). Antibiotic prophylaxis and recurrent urinary tract infection in children. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(18): 1748–1759.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.