Urinary Tract Infections in the Elderly
Courtesy Avere Healthcare Clinic, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
If a woman in her 30s experiences painful burning when she urinates, she likely has a urinary tract infection (UTI); however, an elderly person with a UTI rarely has clear symptoms and might not experience pain or discomfort at all.
As you get older, a normal part of aging is that your immune response changes. Consequently, the population most likely to experience UTIs is the elderly. UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, because symptoms may include: confusion, or a delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations, dizziness, and falling. Sometimes, these are the only symptoms that show up in the elderly—no pain, no fever, no other typical symptoms of a UTI. Older adults with a history of kidney stones, diabetes, men with an enlarged prostate, or women who are menopausal all have a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections.
Drinking plenty of water (2 to 4 quarts each day) is an important factor in preventing UTIs. Some other methods for women to prevent UTIs include: always wipe from front to back and wear cotton-cloth underwear, and change them at least once a day.
UTIs aren’t just a nuisance––they can cause serious health problems. A UTI happens when bacteria in the bladder or kidney multiplies in the urine. Left untreated, a UTI can become something more serious than a set of uncomfortable symptoms. UTIs can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which could permanently damage the kidneys and even lead to kidney failure. UTIs are also a leading cause of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream.
If an individual suspects that they might have a UTI, it’s recommended that they call his or her healthcare provider for an appointment the same day that the symptoms are recognized. In most cases, diagnosing and treating a UTI is straightforward: a simple urinalysis can confirm the infection. For someone in good health, antibiotics are the first choice of treatment and will often clear up the infection in only a few days. Early detection is the key to a quick recovery.
At Avere Healthcare Clinic, we’re pleased to welcome patients with Medicare and strive to provide the quality of care our senior citizens deserve. You may reach us at 940-387-7300.