Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in elderly persons

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Urologist in Coimbatore

Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is a common infection in aged persons. It is an infection caused by bacteria in the urinary tract that comprises of kidneys, bladder, nerves in the bladder, urethra and sphincter muscles. Infections in the urinary tract occur in people of all ages but senior adults and women are highly vulnerable to this problem.

It is quite hard to diagnose UTI in old persons with the symptoms because the warning signs are identical to other common problems arise in later adulthood.

How do infections in the urinary tract happen?

Urethra is the opening with which the urine is excreted. Bacteria or fungal invasion in the urethra is the initial point for UTI. Then it can be easily inherited and spread to other organs like kidneys, bladder and others in the urinary tract. If the infection is found early, it can be cured with antibiotics.

On the other hand, untreated UTI infections will end in serious diseases like kidney failure, Bladder Pain Syndrome and others.

As the size of the urethra is short in women when compared to men’s. It makes the bacteria in the urethra can easily travel and reach the urinary system organs. This is the reason behind women have higher chances of affected with this infection.

Likewise, the immune system of a person is influenced and compromised with age. It means the immune system cannot fight against disease-causing agents in older people and makes them prone to various complications including urinary tract infections. Besides this, senior adults who are getting treatments in a clinic or hospital for other diseases also develop this infection. 

What are the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections?

The common signs of UTI include:

  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Atypical appearance of urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Frequent urination
  • A sense of pressure in the bladder

The mentioned signs are the classic symptoms seen in adults but most of these warning signals do not exist in senior citizens. It is because their immune system is less efficient due to their age.

When the urinary system of aged adults gets infected, it exhibits certain symptoms like:

  • Urine retention
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Decreased mobility
  • Feeling agitated
  • Abnormal psychological conditions like confusion and hallucination

Chronic chillness, frequent vomiting and fever also arise when the infection is deteriorated and spread to kidneys. It is apt for people of all ages.

As mentioned in the beginning, urinary bacteria alone does not cause the above classic and non-classic symptoms. Many age-related health issues also exhaust such symptoms. For instance, memory loss and confusion are common in senior citizens. Similarly, urinary retention is also possible with diabetes.

In the case of senior adults, no one can conclude whether they have UTI by simply noticing the symptoms. 

Diagnosis

A urine test performed by a genitourinary doctor  or Urologist is needed to diagnose the infection in aged people. After collecting and analyzing the urine sample, the doctor will look for the existence of bacteria, It helps to plan the treatment and medications to eliminate the urinary bacteria.

Sometimes, the diagnostic test is followed by cystoscopy to detect whether other organs in the urinary tract are infected.

How can the urinary tract infections be treated?

In general, Urologists prescribe antibiotics to treat the infections in the urinary tract. If the infection had arisen due to fungal infections, they recommend antifungal medications to get a cure for UTI. Senior adults should take the medications as per the doctor’s prescription because an overdose of certain antibiotics will end in hazardous side effects.

The antibiotics recommended to treat the infections vary depending on the type of the UTI infection as follows:

  • Simple infections – Can be easily treated with antibiotics like Cephalexin, Fosfomycin or other Fluoroquinolones.
  • Frequent infections – In case of chronic infections in the urinary tract, cur is possible with if the medications are taken for a few months. Vaginal estrogen therapy is needed for women after menopause.
  • Severe infections – Intravenous antibiotics and antipsychotic medications are required to get rid of confusions caused due to UTI.

How can urinary tract infections be prevented?

Prevention and lowering the risk of UTI is possible with some healthy habits and a healthy diet. The following home remedies are cost-effective and are easy to follow for aged persons:

  • Take Vitamin C rich foods like Papaya, Lemon, Strawberry, Guava, etc. This is because the antioxidants present in Vitamin C take care of strengthening the immune system.
  • Keep yourselves hydrated by drinking more water. Water has the capability of removing the wastes inside the body and accelerates the journey of urine from the bladder to urethra. It minimizes the risk of the bacteria stick to the opening and cause UTI.
  • Don’t repress the urination when you need to urinate. It will provide a way for the bacteria to breed inside the urinary system. The pressure you applied on urination will make the bacteria come out through the urine.
  • Applying a heating pad at mild temperatures over the pubic region will minimize the pain temporarily.
  • Keeping the pubic area dry is helpful to avoid infections in the urinary tract. Sweating in these regions will moisture and lead to infections. Hence it is better to wear loose clothes to get rid of such UTI.
  • Indulge Cranberry Juice in your diet because it possesses antibacterial and antioxidant properties to kill bacteria inside the body.

Everyone has the chance of affected with UTI in their life but people who are crossed 60 years have higher chances of the infections in the urinary system. As difficulties like pain in urination, urine with different colour are common with other health issues, it is better to consult your doctor before seeing a genitourinary doctor.