Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are one of the most common infections diagnosed in older adults and the most frequent listed diagnosis for people age 64-85 in the Emergency Room.
A UTI is an infection in part of the urinary system including the kidneys, bladder, ureter, and urethra. A UTI occurs when bacteria enters the urethra and our immune system doesn’t fight it off, allowing the infection to spread to the bladder and kidneys. As we age, the risk of infection increases, and the symptoms may change.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
Older adults are more likely to experience these symptoms in addition to typical symptoms:
Doctors aren’t sure why these additional symptoms are present as we get older. One theory is that the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain weaken as we age and may allow infection to reach the nervous system. Risk factors can include changes in the immune system, exposure to bacteria in a hospital, incontinence, prior UTIs, and use of catheters.
There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of getting a UTI. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Be sure wipe from front to back after toileting, promptly change incontinence pads and underwear and be sure to use incontinence products that keep your skin dry.
It’s important to know risk factors and that symptoms change as we age, so you can consult a doctor right away if you suspect there is a possible UTI.
If UTIs are a concern check out these links for incontinence products and UTI monitoring pads: