Urinary Tract Infections In The Elderly- What You Should Know
What is there to know about urinary tract infections (UTI), you ask?
I’m glad you asked.
In this post, I am going to share what you should expect as far as urinary tract infections in the elderly go and what you can do as a loved one or caregiver to support your elderly loved one diagnosed with a UTI.
Urinary Tract Infections In The Elderly
Urinary tract infections start becoming common in adults after age 19.
Women are four times more likely as men to get a UTI.
The urinary system is your body’s way of getting rid of unwanted waste in your body.
Your urinary system consists of your kidneys and two tubes which lead away from the kidneys called ureters.
The ureters in turn lead to the bladder and then the urethra through which we rid our bodies of urine.
Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria infect your urinary system.
Typically, your urine would wash such bacteria away. In UTIs however, the part of your system that keeps UTIs away is not functioning properly.
Common causes and risk factors for UTIs
Common causes of UTIs include:
- If your elderly loved one uses a catheter, the risk for a urinary tract infection increases.
- This tip is for women especially. Once your elderly loved one is done using the bathroom, it is important that they wipe away from the vaginal opening instead of towards it. Bacteria from feces can enter the urinary tract this way and cause infections.
- A woman who has gone through menopause is more likely to face an infection.
- People who have spinal cord injury are more likely to experience a UTI.
- Kidney stones.
- An enlarged prostate in men.
- Last but not least, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a UTI.
Symptoms of a UTI
The symptoms of a UTI are immediately noticeable. You can expect.
- A burning sensation during urination.
- Pain in the lower abdomen or in the lower back.
- A frequent urge to use the bathroom and even then, you pass little urine.
In order for a doctor to diagnose a UTI, they will need to test if your urine has bacteria in it.
Usually urine that comes straight from the urethra is sterile (until it comes into contact with microorganisms that live in the air).
If they test the urine and there is bacteria, coupled with the symptoms described above, a doctor will diagnose your loved one with a UTI.
What can you do to help your elderly loved one with a UTI?
If your elderly loved one is reporting a combination of the symptoms above to you, it is important that you report the situation to a doctor immediately.
The earlier the infection is controlled, the better.
If there are no other negative indications, it is likely that a doctor will prescribe antibiotics for your elderly loved one.
And here is the deal with antibiotics.
They are great but lots of bacteria adapt to them quickly.
What this means is that a person can be put on several antibiotics until one finally works.
One way to prevent this from happening is to encourage your elderly loved one to complete the entire antibiotic course.
Sometimes, when people start feeling great after they have taken an antibiotic, they stop taking it.
This is what makes bacteria become resistant to them.
Secondly, as a caregiver, you will have to encourage your loved one to drink more fluids.
This helps to flush out the offending bacteria.
There is some impressive research and personal reports that shows that cranberry juice is also effective in helping to treat UTIs.
If your loved one is not allergic to cranberries, this could be one of the fluids you encourage.
For women, a doctor might advice that your loved one desist from inserting objects into the urethra- for example catheters and tampons.
Getting a UTI is uncomfortable and can get expensive with doctors treatments.
If you suspect your elderly loved one is experiencing one, report it immediately to avoid further complications.
And since prevention is better than cure, simple things like not inserting foreign objects into the urethra and drinking more fluids can be practiced to prevent a UTI from happening in the first place.