Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is quite a common affliction most people suffer from. However, when you are older, the chances of UTI occurrence become more common due to reduced immunity of your body.
There is usually pain and burning while passing urine. There may be an urge to urinate, though there may be less or no flow. The urine may be cloudy, dark or bloody and foul-smelling.
UTI for older adults is very different from UTI for younger people. An older adult with UTI is likely to be more frail, leading to complications like delirium and hospitalization.
Here are some important things you need to know when you are suffering from UTI and your age is above 55.
1. All bacteria in the urine are not bad
Asymptomatic bacteriuria (elevated urine bacteria) is a very common condition and does not cause any symptoms. It can be managed by increasing fluid intake. This condition is seen in 6-16% of the women over the age of 65, 20% of women over the age of 80, and 25-50% of the older adults under medical care. All the bacteria are not essentially bad for your health. Sometimes, your doctor might decide not to treat the bacterial levels with antibiotics unless there are some symptoms of UTI. In fact, frequent use of antibiotics can raise antibiotic resistance levels and make UTI harder to treat. If there are antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in the urine, it is a serious cause of concern.
2. Always check for underlying issues
UTI in older adults can be caused due to various underlying health issues. Sometimes, a bladder obstruction, prostate problems in men or kidney stones present symptoms similar to UTI. When you suspect UTI, tell your doctor the symptoms so that they are able to find the actual issue and treat it. Also, another common underlying condition is diabetes. Those suffering from diabetes are at a higher risk of contracting UTIs.
3. No powerful antibiotics
Older adults do not require powerful antibiotics for treating UTIs. For older adults, narrow-spectrum (mild) antibiotics are preferred. These medicines are less likely to lead to antibiotic resistance and its side effects than powerful antibiotics. If an elderly person is already suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) or under blood pressure medication, even narrow-spectrum antibiotics should be used with caution as their side effects can be very serious.
4. Check for other symptoms
When older adults get UTI, it is accompanied by a number of other symptoms like
- Fever above 100.5 degree F (or 38.1 deg C)
- Very high urge to urinate
- Pricking pain with urination
- Tenderness in the lower abdomen
5. Delirium is not only caused by UTI
When you are faced with delirium and confusion, most people assume you have UTI. This is because one of the symptoms of UTI is delirium. However, in old age, delirium can be caused by other factors like depression, malnutrition, and cognitive issues. Dehydration is the most common cause of confusion.
At least two of these symptoms along with a positive urine culture confirms UTI.
Increasing fluid intake, intake of probiotics and maintaining good genital health and urinary hygiene can ensure that older adults do not suffer from UTI occurrence.
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