UTIs

Urinary Tract Infections

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

UTIs can cause serious health problems. A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria in the bladder or kidney multiplies in the urine. Left untreated it can become something more serious than merely a set of uncomfortable symptoms. They can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which could permanently damage the kidneys and even lead to kidney failure. They are also a leading cause of sepsis or infection of the blood.

UTIs in the elderly

The elderly are most likely to experience UTIs for many reasons, not least of which is their overall susceptibility to all infections due to the suppressed immune system that comes with age and certain age-related conditions. These include diabetes, bowel incontinence and/or use of a catheter; an enlarged prostate. In addition, kidney stones and general lack of mobility are contributory factors. Further, the elderly often experience a weakening of the muscles in the bladder which leads to more urine being retained in the bladder, poor bladder emptying and incontinence, all of which can lead to UTIs.

Signs of a UTI

Alarmingly, elderly people do NOT always exhibit any of the common symptoms experienced by younger people; cloudy and/or bloody urine with a strong smell; frequent need to go to the loo and pain or burning with urination; pressure in the lower pelvis; night sweats or shaking, chills; or a low-grade fever.

UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, as the symptoms include:
•Confusion or delirium-like state
•Agitation
•Other behavioural changes
•Poor motor skills or dizziness
•Falling

How to reduce the chances of a UTI

People with incontinence are more at risk of UTIs because of the greater chance of bacteria being reintroduced into the bladder. Recommendations include frequent changing of COTTON underwear and general cleanliness; other ways to reduce the chances of UTIs are to drink plenty of fluids – including cranberry juice; avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Read our blog post on one woman’s horrible unnecesary experience.

If you have questions to ask or experience to share come and join us on the Age Space Forum.