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Can Urinary Tract Infections Cause Confusion

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Check If It’s A Urinary Tract Infection

Incontinence, Urinary Tract Infection & Pyelonephritis – Medical-Surgical – Renal: | @Level Up RN

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:

  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • needing to pee more often than usual during the night
  • pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
  • needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • a very low temperature below 36C

Can A Urinary Tract Infection Affect The Brain

Home Health Care Specialists Understand Urinary Tract Infections. Infections, including urinary tract infections, can damage nerves and brain cells. That can lead to temporary mental disorientation. The disorientation can be mistaken for the onset of dementia by those unfamiliar with the interaction between it and UTIs

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The Risk Of Utis As You Age

When you think of urinary tract infections , you may think they occur mostly in young adults, especially women. But UTIs are the most common type of bacterial infection in older adults over age 65particularly for those living in nursing homes.

While UTIs can cause mild problems for young adults, they can have more severe consequences in seniors. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure or sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection in the blood.

UTIs are a common problem seen in most medical practices, especially in older patients, said Gerald Oldham, MD, a geriatric medicine physician with Banner Health Center in Peoria, AZ. They seldom occur between ages 15-50, are more common in women and can be a severe issue in dementia patients.

If youre caring for an older adult whos at risk for a UTI, heres what you should know to make sure they are protected.

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Are There Any Complications From A Kidney Infection

Most people who develop a kidney infection make a full recovery if treatment is given promptly. Possible complications which occur in a small number of cases include:

  • Sometimes germs from a kidney infection get into the bloodstream, particularly if treatment is delayed. This may cause blood poisoning . This can be serious or even life-threatening.
  • In pregnant women who develop pyelonephritis occasionally, it may result in the baby being born early or with a lower birth weight.
  • A kidney abscess can develop. This is a collection of pus that forms within the kidney.
  • The infection can sometimes cause some permanent damage to kidney tissues.

These complications are uncommon but may be more likely if:

Emphysematous pyelonephritis is also a rare complication. In this condition the kidney tissues are rapidly destroyed by the infection and the bacteria can release toxic gases which can build up in the kidneys. You become very unwell if you develop this complication. This complication seems mostly to affect people who have poorly controlled diabetes.

Urinary Tract Infection: Diagnosis And Treatment In Seniors

Can Bladder Infections Cause Memory Loss

The diagnosis of a UTI begins with a physical exam and urinalysis. The urine sample is cultured to see what sort of bacteria grow so that the correct treatment is offered. In addition, other testing may include a CT scan, x-rays, and an ultrasound.

Depending on whether the infection is caused by bacteria or a fungus, doctors will prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal medication to clear up the urinary tract infection. Its important to report all medications the senior is currently taking to the physician, so that the doctor doesnt prescribe anything that could cause an interaction or be detrimental to the patients health. In extreme cases, with infections that have progressed and are severe, intravenous antibiotics may be required.

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Does Cranberry Juice Help

Research has come up with different results on this question. Some studies have found a slight benefit of cranberry juice in reducing the risk of UTIs. Others have not found a difference when cranberry juice was ingested. You should check with your healthcare provider first before adding cranberry juice to your diet on a regular basis because it can interact with other medications such as Coumadin .

Urinary Tract Infections In Babies And Young Children

Babies and children are at risk of UTIs. These infections always need to be investigated as they may indicate a serious underlying condition, such as urinary reflux. Reflux is caused by a bladder valve problem allowing urine to flow back into the kidneys from the bladder. Reflux can cause the urine to stay inside the body increasing the risk of infection. It may lead to kidney scarring, which in turn leads to high blood pressure and sometimes kidney problems.

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What Causes Kidney Infection

A kidney infection is caused by bacteria that enters your urethra and travels all the way up to your kidneys, triggering an infection. While this is the most common way of kidney infection, a bacterial infection elsewhere in your body can also spread through your bloodstream to your kidneys, causing moderate to severe kidney infection.

While it can happen to anyone, here are some of the risk factors that increase your predisposition to kidney infection:

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Can You Get Sepsis From A Uti

UTI l Urinary Tract Infection & Pyelonephritis Treatment for NCLEX RN & LPN

Untreated urinary tract infections may spread to the kidney, causing more pain and illness. It can also cause sepsis. The term urosepsis is usually used to describe sepsis caused by a UTI. Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury.

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How To Treat A Uti

The most effective way to treat a UTI is to take antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. If someone is experiencing confusion due to a UTI, they should see a doctor immediately. While antibiotics are effective they can lead to other symptoms such as yeast infections. Therefore, using prevention over treatment is desirable.

Drinking plenty of water is also important when experiencing a UTI. Additionally, consuming probiotics can help restore balance. Yogurt contains probiotics, which are naturally occurring, helpful bacteria. Probiotics help stop the harmful bacteriathat cause UTIs in the first placefrom spreading and multiplying. As a result, yogurt helps balance helpful and harmful bacteria in the urinary tract, and slows the spread of infection.

Preventing UTIs is an important part of keeping your family, patients, and/or yourself safe. In particular, elderly people can experience psychological symptoms as a result of the infections that cause UTIs. These symptoms are not only uncomfortable, they are also dangerous. The psychological symptoms of UTIs include confusion, which can lead to falls, dizziness, and loss of coordination. As a result, it is imperative to treat UTIs quickly.

Cognitive Impairment And Dementia

Cognitive impairment is defined as a new deficit in two or more areas of cognitive function. In milder forms, cognitive impairment may not interfere with daily functioning. In contrast, dementia is characterised by persistent cognitive decline and behavioural disturbance that is severe enough to interfere with independence and daily functioning. CKD is an independent risk factor for progressive cognitive impairment and dementia. Dementia presents an important clinical complication as it can result in poor health literacy, medical adherence and is a powerful predictor of mortality in dialysis patients., While cognitive impairment is recognised as a common complication of CKD, it remains poorly identified. The reported prevalence of cognitive impairment in dialysis is estimated at between 30% and 60% while less than 5% of patients have clinically documented histories of cognitive impairment.

Evidence suggests that both the prevalence and progression of cognitive impairment are inversely associated with the level of kidney function. Several large population-based studies have demonstrated an increased risk of cognitive decline in the presence of moderate CKD including an 11% increased prevalence of cognitive impairment per 10mL/min/1.73m2 decrease in eGFR.

Diagnosis and management

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Don’t Be Surprised If Your Doctor Doesn’t Rush You Into Treatment

Urinary tract infections can be tricky in older age. They’re not always as easy to spot or treat as in youth. And the decades-long approach to treatment is changing. “We’ve been hasty in using antibiotics, and we’re learning there are significant consequences that can range from side effects of medication to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says Dr. Helen Chen, a geriatrician at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Rehabilitation Center.

Causes Of Sudden Confusion

Can A Urinary Tract Infection Cause Confusion

Sudden confusion can be caused by many different things. Do not try to self-diagnose get medical help if someone suddenly becomes confused or delirious.

Some of the most common causes of sudden confusion include:

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What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection And How Do You Treat It

A Urinary Tract Infection is as uncomfortable as it sounds. Symptoms of a UTI often include painful urination , frequent trips to the bathroom, and a feeling of urgency. Other UTI symptoms may include lower abdominal or pelvic pain and pressure, blood in the urine, milky, cloudy, or pink/red urine, fever, and strong smelling urine. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Which Dementias Cause Hallucinations

Hallucinations are most common for people with Lewy body dementia, an illness caused by the buildup of proteins called Lewy bodies that disrupt communication between brain cells throughout the brain or kill the cells altogether. Visual hallucinations will often occur in the early stages of the disease, though they eventually stop somewhere in the middle stages and wont recur. People with Lewy body dementia often fluctuate between good days, when theyre thinking normally or at least fairly well, and bad days. In the early stages, those bad days are likely to include visual hallucinations.

Hallucinations will also occur for people with Parkinsons disease with dementia, and for people with Alzheimers. Both those diseases are also associated with a buildup of proteins in the brain. With these dementias, though, hallucinations are more likely to be associated with hearing or feeling. Someone might have conversations with an imaginary person, for example, or think theyre being touched by something that isnt there.

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Other Ways To Prevent Recurring Utis

If you have more than 3 UTIs in 1 year, or 2 UTIs in 6 months, there are other things that may help prevent UTIs.

There is some evidence that women under 65 years old who keep getting UTIs may find it helpful to take:

  • a supplement called D-mannose this is not recommended for pregnant women
  • cranberry products, such as juice or tablets

Speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.

Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.

Page last reviewed: 18 November 2020 Next review due: 18 November 2023

A Pharmacist Can Help With Utis

Urinary Tract Infection | How To Prevent UTI (2018)

You can ask a pharmacist about treatments for a UTI.

A pharmacist can:

  • offer advice on things that can help you get better
  • suggest the best painkiller to take
  • tell you if you need to see a GP about your symptoms

Some pharmacies offer a UTI management service. They may be able to give antibiotics if they’re needed.

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Ways To Avoid Urinary Tract Infections

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, which increases urination, thereby flushing out bladder bacteria. How much should you drink? Enough to keep your urine looking clear.

  • Wipe properly. Women should wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Wiping from back to front may increase the risk of getting UTIs.

  • Use topical estrogen creams. These creams may help postmenopausal women who have vaginal dryness and struggle with recurrent urinary tract infections.

  • Don’t rely on cranberry juice. The evidence about whether it helps prevent UTIs is mixed. And the juice has lots of sugar and calories.

Will Uti Go Away By Itself

Antibiotics are an effective treatment for UTIs. However, the body can often resolve minor, uncomplicated UTIs on its own without the help of antibiotics. By some estimates, 2542 percent of uncomplicated UTI infections clear on their own. In these cases, people can try a range of home remedies to speed up recovery.

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Confusion In Seniors May Be A Simple Uti Rather Than Dementia

Dementia is often the biggest fear when an elderly loved one suddenly becomes disoriented or cant remember names, even their own. But the actual diagnosis may be less scary and far more treatable: a urinary tract infection.

Data from multiple studies suggest a link between UTIs in seniors and delirium, a type of altered mental state, says KC Bens, MD, urologist on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

Any infection in seniors can cause delirium, Dr. Bens says. An infection is an automatic risk factor for delirium. Their immune system doesnt respond the same way a young persons robust immune system would.


Delirium refers to a sudden, intense state of confusion in patients, Dr. Bens explains. They might not know where they are or who they are. Some even experience hallucinations.

Many things can cause delirium, including chronic illnesses, medications, electrolyte abnormalities, and infection, Dr. Bens says. Anytime someone experiences neurological symptoms, its best to go to the emergency department for an evaluation.

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that can infect any part of the urinary system: including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Traditional symptoms include painful and frequent urination, blood in the urine, discomfort in the pelvic area or in the back near the kidneys, and foul-smelling urine, Dr. Bens says. But for seniors specifically, there is also a concern of a neurological impact.


Complications Of Utis In Seniors

UTI in seniors: Symptoms, causes, and dementia

A UTI that goes untreated in anyone can lead to complications. However, elderly individuals have a higher risk of complications from urinary tract infections than any other category of individual.

  • Kidney damage. A typical UTI can become more difficult to treat and tolerate if it moves into the kidneys. In addition, it can cause scarring on the kidneys, which leads to potential for hypertension and kidney failure.
  • . Because kidney function can be reduced, some of the waste the kidneys would normally filter out and push from the body with urination may flow back into the bloodstream, leading to illness, which is difficult on the seniors immune system.
  • . In the same process, the infection may enter the bloodstream, leading to blood poisoning that is a life threatening issue.
  • Worsening dementia. While the symptoms of confusion that a UTI causes in the elderly may not directly lead to dementia, if the condition develops in a patient who already has dementia, a urinary tract infection could cause a quicker progression of dementia, leading to worsening overall health for the elderly patient.

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Things You Can Do Yourself

To help ease symptoms of a urinary tract infection :

  • takeparacetamolup to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
  • you can give childrenliquid paracetamol
  • rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
  • avoid having sex

Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from happening, which may help. But there’s no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat a UTI if the infection has already started.

Signs And Symptoms Of Uti In The Elderly

Interestingly enough, the elderly with a UTI are often misdiagnosed with senior dementia or Alzheimers disease, because a UTI can mimic symptoms of such conditions. Also, according to Nursing magazine between 30% and 40% of elderly patients with serious infection dont exhibit the hallmark sign of fever due to the inability of the immune system to mount a response to infection due to the effects of aging. As the bacteria in the urine spread to the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier, confusion and other cognitive difficulties can be the result. Sudden onset of these symptoms should lead one to investigate possible UTI. An elderly person who is experiencing signs of mental difficulties should also be closely monitored for other signs of a UTI such as:

  • Urine that appears cloudy

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About Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are common infections that can affect the bladder, the kidneys and the tubes connected to them.

Anyone can get them, but theyre particularly common in women. Some women experience them regularly .

UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, but usually pass within a few days and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

This page is about UTIs in adults. There is a separate article about UTIs in children.

This page covers:

What Can Happen If A Uti Is Not Treated

Parenteral Diarrhea and Urinary Tract Infections

If treated right away, a UTI is not likely to damage your urinary tract. But if your UTI is not treated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and other parts of your body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in the back where the kidneys are located. Antibiotics can also treat kidney infections.

Sometimes the infection can get in the bloodstream. This is rare but life-threatening.

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