While you may think of a urinary tract infection (UTI) as a minor inconvenience, it’s actually a serious condition that can lead to kidney infections, kidney failure, and even death by sepsis if not treated. In young people, UTIs are generally easy to diagnose thanks to a number of distinct symptoms; however, in seniors, those symptoms may be different or may not present at all. Because UTIs are much more common in older people (especially women), we feel it’s crucial to educate yourself about them and their symptoms so you can identify them before they become a problem. Here’s some information from American Senior Communities about urinary tract infections and how their diagnosis and treatment is different for seniors.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
The most common symptoms of a UTI include:
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine
- Urine with a bad smell
- Frequent urination
- Painful or burning urination
- Minor fever
- Feelings of pressure in the pelvis
- Night sweats or chills
While these symptoms almost always present in younger people, they often do not in seniors. This is due to the fact that seniors generally have a weaker immune system that cannot respond to infection as strongly. Here are some additional symptoms that sometimes present in seniors with UTIs that can be confused with other conditions:
- Moments of upset
- Behavioral Changes
- Impaired Motor Skills
Because many of these symptoms are similar to those of conditions like dementia, UTIs are often misdiagnosed in seniors, leaving them untreated and allowing them to progress into more serious conditions. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to talk to a doctor about the possibility that it could be a UTI so treatment can start as soon as possible.
Treating Urinary Tract Infections in Seniors
While conditions like diabetes, incontinence, enlarged prostate, and limited mobility can increase the risk of UTIs, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to treat them and decrease the likelihood of them recurring in the future. Here’s how you can reduce your risk of a UTI:
- Be sure to drink 2-4 quarts of water every day unless your doctor directs otherwise.
- Consuming cranberry juice has been shown to fight UTIs, although it’s not advisable for people with a history of kidney stones.
- Cut down your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoid using douches or other feminine hygiene products.
- Women should be sure to wipe from front to back.
- Wear cotton underwear and be sure to change them once a day.
- If you suffer from incontinence, be sure to change your briefs promptly and thoroughly clean the genital area with a front to back motion when changing them.
We know it’s not a pleasant topic of conversation, but at American Senior Communities, we know how important it is to educate the general public about this problem to prevent serious kidney injuries or even death. Be mindful of UTI symptoms in yourself and your loved ones and get to a doctor right away even if you’re not sure. If a urinary tract infection is caught early on, it’s fairly simple to treat, but if it’s allowed to progress, it could be deadly. When in doubt, schedule that doctor’s appointment immediately.
For more information about American Senior Communities, visit us at www.ASCCare.com.