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"When "Going" Hurts: Recognizing and Addressing Painful Urination in Children"

Urination is a natural bodily function, and for most children, it's a painless process. But sometimes, children might experience pain or discomfort when they pee. This, medically known as dysuria, can be a cause for concern and warrants a visit to a pediatric urologist.

Understanding Dysuria:

Dysuria can manifest in several ways. Children might complain of a burning sensation, stinging, or pain in the lower abdomen or genital area during urination. They might also experience frequent urination, urgency to urinate (feeling like they need to go right away), or difficulty passing urine completely.

Potential Causes of Dysuria in Children:

Several underlying conditions can cause dysuria in children. Here are some of the most common:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): UTIs are bacterial infections that can involve the bladder (cystitis) or kidneys (pyelonephritis). Dysuria is a hallmark symptom of UTIs, along with frequent urination, urgency, and sometimes, blood in the urine.

  • Bladder Stones: Small, hard deposits of minerals can form in the bladder and irritate the bladder lining as urine passes over them. This can cause dysuria, along with blood in the urine and difficulty starting urination.

  • Vulvovaginitis (Girls): This is an inflammation of the vulva and vagina, common in young girls. It can cause irritation and burning during urination, along with itching and redness in the genital area.

  • Balanitis (Boys): Similar to vulvovaginitis, balanitis involves inflammation of the glans penis (head) and foreskin in boys. This can cause burning, pain during urination, and difficulty retracting the foreskin.

  • Urethral Strictures: Narrowing of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside, can cause difficulty urinating and discomfort.

  • Anatomical Abnormalities: In some cases, certain anatomical abnormalities of the urinary tract can lead to dysuria. These might require specialized evaluation by a pediatric urologist.

When to See a Pediatric Urologist:

If your child experiences any of the following symptoms alongside dysuria, it's crucial to seek medical attention from a pediatric urologist:

  • Fever along with painful urination (suggests a possible UTI)

  • Blood in the urine

  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination

  • Frequent urination accidents after potty training

  • Abdominal pain

Diagnosis and Treatment:

A pediatric urologist will perform a thorough physical examination and ask detailed questions about your child's symptoms and medical history. Depending on the suspected cause, they might order additional tests like urine analysis, imaging studies (ultrasound), or specific tests for underlying conditions.

Treatment for dysuria depends on the underlying cause. For UTIs, antibiotics will be prescribed. Bladder stones might require removal procedures. Vulvovaginitis and balanitis are typically treated with topical creams or medications.


Dysuria in children shouldn't be ignored. Early diagnosis and treatment can address the underlying cause and alleviate their discomfort. By consulting a pediatric urologist, you can ensure your child receives the proper care and experiences a healthy urinary system.

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