Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur in boys when the bacteria enters the urinary bladder. It can affect males at any age. Read the article to learn more.
The urinary system is more vulnerable to infections because it comes in contact with thousands of bacteria from the gut. However, there are several methods by which these infections can be prevented. It has been commonly seen that women or girls are at a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections. On the contrary, boys have a longer urethra making it difficult for the bacteria to reach the bladder. Despite a long urethra, boys suffer from urinary tract infections due to several causes. It is important to undergo the treatment at the right time to prevent further complications.
Urinary tract infection simply means the infection of the urinary tract or the organs present in it. Though the urinary system provides shelter to numerous bacteria, it still does not allow them to cause infections. These bacteria enter the urethra and reach up to the urinary bladder, ureters, and kidneys. As a result, the patient experiences pain, fever, and a burning sensation while passing urine. The common causes of urinary tract infections in men are prostate gland enlargement, uncircumcised penis, and diabetes. As a result, the situation worsens and can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.
The infection usually occurs in three percent of boys and eight percent of girls. The causes of urinary tract infections in boys are listed below:
Bacterial Entry - Most bacteria are flushed out in the urine formed by the kidneys, and that is how the urinary system saves itself from infection. However, the bacteria originating from the gut threaten the urinary system, and one such bacteria is Escherichia coli (E. Coli). Bacterial molecules (virulence factors) expressed by Escherichia coli (E. Coli) help infect the urinary system. It enters the urethra through stools and finally reaches the urinary bladder infecting it.
Diabetes - Diabetic men are at a higher risk of suffering from urinary tract infections compared to non-diabetics. It is because diabetes interferes with the immune system of the body. The numbers of white blood cells and other cells that fight infections are reduced in diabetes, making them vulnerable to infections.
Uncircumcised Boys - If the skin covering the penis (foreskin) was not removed in boys at one year of age or younger, they are said to be uncircumcised. If circumcision (removal of the foreskin) is done, it exposes the penis when it is erect or non-erect. It has been noted that the risk of urinary tract infections is more in uncircumcised boys compared to circumcised boys.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia - The prostate gland is present near the urinary bladder in males. Prostatic hyperplasia, or the enlargement of the prostate gland, blocks the urinary bladder. As a result, the urine flow gets obstructed, resulting in bacterial infections.
Constipation - In this condition, the child feels difficulty in passing stools. The stools remain within the organ known as the rectum, which makes it difficult for the patient to empty the bladder. As a result, the urine accumulates in the bladder and provides a medium for bacteria to multiply and infect it. The child must have healthy bowel habits.
Urinary Retention - There are common reasons for urinary retention or restricted urine flow in men, including kidney stones, tumors, narrowing of the ureters, and walking difficulties due to old age. As a result, the urine does not flow through the body and becomes a potential source of bacterial infection.
The symptoms of urinary tract infection in boys are listed below:
The infection is usually accompanied by fever.
Pain in the abdominal region.
Restricted urine flow.
The urine appears cloudy and smells bad.
Vomiting and diarrhea are commonly seen.
If the urinary tract infection is due to the enlargement of the prostate gland, the patient experiences pain in the area between the rectum and the scrotum.
Urinary tract infections can be simply diagnosed based on medical history, laboratory tests, and other imaging tests. The diagnostic methods are described below:
Digital Rectal Examination - It is a type of physical examination done to check the status of the prostate gland. The surgeon inserts a gloved finger through the rectum and reaches up to the prostate gland. If the gland is enlarged or any other abnormality is present, it can be detected in this examination.
Laboratory Tests - The doctor might ask the patient to undergo the tests mentioned below:
Urinalysis - In this test, the patent collects urine in a container. The urine sample is tested and examined.
Blood Tests - The doctor might suggest the patient do a blood test to check the health of the kidneys, blood sugar levels, and the presence of any other infection in the body.
Imaging Tests - The following imaging tests are done to detect infection:
Voiding Cystourethrogram - This test aims to check whether the patient urinates properly or not. The contrast material is injected into the patient’s body with the help of the catheter, and the images are taken to monitor bladder function.
Abdominal Ultrasound - It is an imaging technique in which images of the urinary tract along with the prostate gland are obtained. The patient is laid on a table, and a gel is applied to the abdomen. The doctor then moves a device known as a transducer over the abdomen to send sound waves into the body. As a result, the images are obtained on the computer screen. These images help to check the size of the prostate gland and if kidney stones or tumors are blocking the urine flow.
Antibiotics help treat urinary tract infections in boys. The medications to be taken depend upon the type of infection. If the urinary system is normal, the infection is uncomplicated, whereas the infection is complicated if there is some problem in the urinary system. The uncomplicated infection usually subsides in two to three days, but the entire course of antibiotics needs to be completed. The doctor might recommend a higher dose of antibiotics if the infection is severe and complicated. The medicines are injected into the body through the veins if the patient cannot take them by mouth. The commonly used antibiotics are listed below:
Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid.
The following habits help prevent bladder infection:
The urine should not be held for long because it provides a medium for bacteria to grow, resulting in infection. The patient must follow healthy bowel and bladder habits like urinating immediately and wiping from front to back.
Boys who have not undergone circumcision (removal of the foreskin of the penis), it is important to maintain proper hygiene in that area. The penis should be cleaned daily by pushing back the foreskin while taking a shower. The foreskin should be pulled back while urinating and pulled forward to prevent urine accumulation in the penis. It is because urine can become a source of bacterial infection.
The patient needs to drink enough fluids and avoid canned juices and carbonated drinks. Instead, fresh fruit juices, including cranberry and orange juice, should be given to maintain optimum fluid levels.
If the patient is suffering from bladder problems, kidney diseases, urinary tract obstruction, and other conditions, he must consult the doctor at the earliest for treatment.
The complications of urinary tract infections are listed below:
The patient might have complications in the kidneys if the infection is left untreated.
The risk of hypertension is high due to the accumulation of toxins and waste products.
Urinary tract infection is a serious condition and needs medical attention at the earliest. Consult the doctor immediately if any such symptoms are noticed so the treatment is started at the earliest. The patient must take his prescribed medications on time and consult a urologist immediately.
Last reviewed at:
14 Nov 2022 - 6 min read
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