A urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common indication of vesicoureteral reflux. A UTI doesn't always cause noticeable signs and symptoms, though most people have some. These signs and symptoms can include:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria) or cloudy, strong-smelling urine
  • Fever
  • Abdominal or flank pain
  • Hesitancy to urinate or holding urine to avoid the burning sensation

A UTI may be difficult to diagnose in children, who may have only nonspecific signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms in infants with a UTI may also include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • An unexplained fever
  • Irritability

As your child gets older, untreated vesicoureteral reflux can lead to other signs and symptoms, including:

  • Bed-wetting
  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in urine
  • Kidney failure

Another indication of vesicoureteral reflux, which may be detected before birth by sonogram, is swelling of the kidneys or the urine-collecting structures of one or both kidneys (hydronephrosis) in the fetus, caused by the backup of urine into the kidneys.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor right away if your child develops any of the signs or symptoms of a UTI, such as:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Abdominal or flank pain
  • A hesitancy to urinate

Call your doctor about fever if your child:

  • Is less than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher
  • Is 3 months or older and has a fever of 104 F (40 C)

In addition, call your doctor immediately if your infant has the following signs or symptoms:

  • Changes in appetite. If your baby refuses several feedings in a row or eats poorly, contact the doctor.
  • Changes in mood. If your baby is lethargic or unusually difficult to rouse, tell the doctor right away. Also let the doctor know if your baby is persistently irritable or has periods of inconsolable crying.
  • Diarrhea. Contact the doctor if your baby's stools are especially loose or watery.
  • Vomiting. Occasional spitting up is normal. Contact the doctor if your baby spits up large portions of multiple feedings or vomits forcefully after feedings.
Jul. 16, 2011