What Are the Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Boys?
A urinary tract infection (also called bladder infection or UTI) is such a common condition that most of us will contract at least one in our lifetime, especially pregnant women, the elderly and young children 1. In most cases, girls are more likely than boys to contract urinary tract infections. When boys do contract UTIs, there are generally very easy to treat once the symptoms are recognized. However, prevention is the best treatment.
Boys and UTIs
Even though urinary tract infections are common in young children, many parents are surprised to find that girls are not the only ones who get them 1. Males in general are less likely to get UTIs because they have a longer urethra than females. The urethra is the tube through which urine leaves the body and is also often the entry point for UTI-causing bacteria. When a boy does get a urinary tract infection, it is also less likely to spread through the urinary system because the bacteria has to travel so far up urethra to reach other parts of the urinary system 1.
The main reason that young boys are more likely to get urinary tract infections than older children is incontinence 1. Whether your son is still diapers or is potty trained but still has occasional accidents, he is spending an extended time with his urethra exposed to the bacteria found in his stool. Urine is normally sterile, but when your son's body is fighting off a urinary infection, it may contain bacteria that has been flushed from the urinary tract 1. If the urine is collected in a diaper or underwear, bacteria has a chance to re-enter the urethra again and possibly cause further infection.
Children are less likely to practice consistent good hygiene than older people, putting them at risk for urinary tract infections 1. Washing the genitals at least once a day and wiping front to back after a bowel movement are two ways to prevent urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, children sometimes are not as diligent about these practices once they begin to bathe and wipe themselves.
Not Being Circumcised
In some case, circumcision can play a part in causing urinary tract infections in boys, especially toddlers and babies. Uncircumcised boys are more likely to have bacteria grow under the foreskin at the head of their penises. This bacteria can find its way into the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection 1. It is not necessary to circumcise your son to prevent urinary tract infections. Wiping under the foreskin after urinating is enough to prevent infections.
Problems With the Urinary System
If your son has chronic UTIs, it may be an issue with his urinary system. The urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder and urethra, is responsible for removing waste from the blood and producing urine to be expelled from the body. If there is a problem with the way your son's urinary system is formed, it can cause him to develop urinary tract infections. If your son has more than two or three urinary tract infections a year, your health care provider will probably begin testing his kidneys and bladder for an underlying condition.
- altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images