Symptoms Can Be Different
In younger adults, symptoms of a UTI can be pretty dramatic: pain and burning during urination, as well as a frequent, often urgent need to pee. But Fishburne notes that symptoms are often less obvious in older adults.
Its not always easy to separate the signs of an infection like incontinence and the need to go the bathroom more frequently from other underlying conditions such as overactive bladder, which are more common in the older population. Among older adults, UTIs may cause symptoms not seen in younger people, such as confusion or agitation. That doesnt mean your loved one definitely has a UTI if they are just showing signs of delirium, stresses Fishburne. But if they have the symptoms above, lower back pain, blood in their urine or tenderness in their abdomen, they should see a physician immediately.
Some older adults may also present with a fever over 100 degrees, but this does not occur in every situation and would more suggest involvement of the upper urinary tract or the kidneys. Any of these symptoms should prompt a call to your doctor. At-home test kits arent always accurate and may often be unnecessary.
Urinary Infections In Children
A urinary infection in a child needs to be investigated as it may indicate a more serious condition.
The most common urinary system condition is urinary reflux. With this condition, the bladder valve isnt working properly and allows urine to flow back to the kidneys, increasing the risk of a kidney infection.
Urinary reflux and the associated infections can scar or permanently damage the kidney, and can also lead to:
- high blood pressure
- toxaemia in pregnancy
- kidney failure.
Urinary reflux tends to run in families, so its important to screen children as early as possible if a close relative is known to have the problem.
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You were visiting your mom and she seemed very confused and disoriented. She claimed the retirement home had moved her to a different apartment and she didnt know why.
Fortunately, you knew the reason for her confusion was not to be ignored because you had seen this out-of-sorts behavior before. Your mom hadnt been moved to a new apartment, but she probably had another urinary tract infection.
According to Washington University Clinical Associates primary care specialist Chelsea Pearson, MD, Family and caregivers are key in helping us identify infection in older adults. When you notice a sudden change in behavior- even a subtle one- you want to take it seriously.
Falls, agitation, confusion, changes in appetite, and incontinence in someone who was previously able to get to the bathroom can all be signs of a urinary tract infection or UTI.
When an older woman has a UTI, the symptoms are different from a younger woman. There might not be any painful burning during urination always a typical sign. This is because as you get older, your immune response changes its part of normal aging.
A UTI places stress on the body, says Dr. Pearson, and any type of stress, physical or emotional, can cause an older adult to become confused. For those suffering from Alzheimers disease or dementia, a UTI can make dementia temporarily worse.
You want to keep your urine clear by drinking four to six 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Recurrent Utis
The majority of UTIs, about 90%, are caused by E. coli, a bacteria that naturally occurs in your intestines where its helpful. When this bacteria comes in contact with your urinary tract system, however, it can be harmful and lead to a UTI.
For most people, simple hygiene and lifestyle changes can help prevent recurrent UTIs. To help stop a UTI before it starts, try implementing these tips:
- Avoid spreading E. coli by washing your genitals with warm water and mild soap before and after sex.
- Drink plenty of fluids to flush out any wandering bacteria from the urinary system.
- Be sure to urinate after having sex to keep bacteria from lingering in the urethra.
- When you feel the urge to urinate, go postponing urination increases your risk of developing a UTI.
- Be sure to wipe from front to back to avoid spreading E. coli to the vagina.
Ready to learn more about UTIs and how they affect older women? Experiencing symptoms of a UTI? Contact our Littleton office or book an appointment online now and the help you need!
Older Adults Dont Need Powerful Antibiotics For Utis
Treatment for UTIs should begin with narrow-spectrum antibiotics, say Dr. Lathia and Dr. Goldman.
These drugs are less likely to lead to antibiotic resistance and problematic side effects than broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Today, amoxicillin is commonly prescribed as first-line treatment for UTIs in older adults.
Other common narrow-spectrum must be used with caution when patients have chronic kidney disease or take blood pressure medication, as many older adults do or because their side effects can be serious in older adults.
Also Check: Why Am I Prone To Urinary Tract Infections
When Urinary Tract Infections Keep Coming Back
If you are prone to recurrent UTIs, you can head them off before they take hold.
Unless you’re in the fortunate minority of women who have never had a urinary tract infection , you know the symptoms well. You might feel a frequent urgency to urinate yet pass little urine when you go. Your urine might be cloudy, blood-tinged, and strong-smelling. For 25% to 30% of women who’ve had a urinary tract infection, the infection returns within six months.
If you have repeated UTIs, you’ve experienced the toll they take on your life. However, you may take some comfort in knowing that they aren’t likely to be the result of anything you’ve done. “Recurrent UTIs aren’t due to poor hygiene or something else that women have brought on themselves. Some women are just prone to UTIs,” says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Kalpana Gupta, a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How Do Utis Affect Pregnancy
Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy raise your risk for UTIs. UTIs during pregnancy are more likely to spread to the kidneys.
If you’re pregnant and have symptoms of a UTI, see your doctor or nurse right away. Your doctor will give you an antibiotic that is safe to take during pregnancy.
If left untreated, UTIs could lead to kidney infections and problems during pregnancy, including:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
Also Check: What Causes Urinary Urgency And Frequency
Other Symptoms Of Utis
If the person has a sudden and unexplained change in their behaviour, such as increased confusion, agitation, or withdrawal, this may be because of a UTI.
These pages explain what a UTI is, the different types of UTIs, their symptoms and treatments, and gives tips on how they may be prevented.
Uti Signs And Symptoms In Childrenare Different
UTIs are the second most common type of infection in children, behind ear infections. Unfortunately, early symptoms of UTI in young children are not always apparent. And sometimes there are no UTI symptoms at all, or your child is simply unable to articulate the UTI symptoms he or she is experiencing. When it comes to babies under 2 years old, parents need to tune in to these signs of a urinary tract infection:
- Fever A fever of 104°F or higher may be the sole symptom in babies. Its also the most common symptom of UTI during babys first two years.
- Jaundice Up to 18 percent of babies with prolonged or worsening jaundice also have UTIs. When jaundice occurs one full year after birth, its a strong indicator of UTI.
- Poor feeding or failure to thrive
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Crying while urinating
Meanwhile, older children generally have similar symptoms to adults, including urgency, cloudy urine, and pain during urination. For children whove already been toilet trained, bed-wetting is also a sign of a UTI.
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What Is A Urine Infection And What Causes It
Most urine infections are caused by germs that come from your own bowel. They cause no harm in your bowel but can cause infection if they get into other parts of your body. Some bacteria lie around your back passage after you pass a stool. These bacteria sometimes travel up the tube called the urethra and into your bladder. Some bacteria thrive in urine and multiply quickly to cause infection.
A urine infection is often called a urinary tract infection by healthcare professionals. When the infection is just in the bladder and urethra, this is called a lower UTI. If it travels up to affect one or both kidneys as well then it is called an upper UTI. This can be more serious than lower UTIs, as the kidneys can be damaged by the infection.
Treating Utis In The Elderly
If you think your loved one might have a urinary tract infection, see a doctor right away to avoid further complications. An urgent care clinic is a viable alternative if you cannot get an appointment with their primary care physician soon enough. Urinalysis and/or a urine culture are typically required to diagnose a UTI, determine what kind of bacteria are present in the urine and select the most appropriate antibiotic for treatment. If caught early on, a course of antibiotics typically clears the infection in no time.
Keep in mind that older individuals are also prone to a related condition called asymptomatic bacteriuria, which is characterized by the presence of bacteria in the urine but the absence of any signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection. The estimated incidence of asymptomatic bacteriuria is 15 percent or greater in women and men between 65 and 80 years of age and continues to climb after age 80 to as high as 40 to 50 percent of long-term care residents.
Research shows that most patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria do not develop symptomatic UTIs, therefore antibiotic treatment is not beneficial. In fact, antibiotic use can result in adverse side effects, such as Clostridium difficileinfection, and contribute to the development of resistant bacteria. A seniors physician will consider their symptoms and test results to differentiate between a UTI and asymptomatic bacteriuria and determine whether treatment is necessary.
Bacteria In The Urine Isnt Necessarily A Problem
Elevated urinary bacteria doesnt cause any symptoms and can often be corrected by increasing fluid intake.
The condition occurs in about 6 to 16 percent of women over age 65, 20 percent of women over age 80, and 25 to 50 percent of women living in nursing facilities.
Doctors should not treat urinary bacteria with antibiotics unless there are multiple other signs or symptoms of a UTI. This can encourage antibiotic resistance and make future UTIs harder to treat, says Dr. Lathia.
The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the urine also increases the risk of serious complications, including C. difficile infection and death.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Uti
- Pain or burning when urinating
- An urge to urinate often, but not much comes out when you go
- Pressure in your lower abdomen
- Urine that smells bad or looks milky or cloudy
- Blood in the urine. This is more common in younger women. If you see blood in your urine, tell a doctor or nurse right away.
- Feeling tired, shaky, confused, or weak. This is more common in older women.
- Having a fever, which may mean the infection has reached your kidneys
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Common Bladder Problems And When To Seek Help
Bladder problems can disrupt day-to-day life. When people have bladder problems, they may avoid social settings and have a harder time getting tasks done at home or at work. Common bladder problems include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and urinary retention.
Some signs of a bladder problem may include:
- Inability to hold urine or leaking urine
- Needing to urinate more frequently or urgently
- Cloudy urine
- Pain or burning before, during, or after urinating
- Trouble starting or having a weak stream while urinating
- Trouble emptying the bladder
If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider.
Treatment for bladder problems may include behavioral and lifestyle changes, exercises, medications, surgery, or a combination of these treatments and others. For more information on treatment and management of urinary incontinence, visit Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults.
How Do Utis Affect People With Dementia
If someone with dementia develops a UTI, they may quickly become more confused or agitated, or you might notice a sudden change in their behaviour. This sudden confusion is also known as delirium.
The person with dementia may not be able to communicate how they feel, so if you notice a sudden or drastic change in them, seek medical advice. Infections can speed up the progression of dementia, so it’s important to get help quickly if you suspect someone has a UTI.
Recommended Reading: Lower Back Pain With Urinary Incontinence
Seeking Treatment For A Uti
Urinary tract infections sometimes resolve on their own, but they can easily worsen due to a seniors compromised immune function. When left untreated, UTIs can lead to chronic incontinence. The infection can also spread to the upper urinary tract and cause serious kidney damage. When that happens, patients often experience a fever and severe pain. The infection could spread even further to the bloodstream and cause sepsis, which can be fatal. Therefore, timely testing and treatment with antibiotics is crucial.
Once Altman recognized the behavioral symptoms that often accompanied her mothers UTIs, she and her sister were more vigilant about assisting with personal hygiene and pursuing tests and prescriptions to clear up the infection. Most family caregivers are not aware of the unique symptoms of UTIs in seniors, but this information is vital for speedy diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Its nice to have that early warning, Altman notes. Its well worth sending in a urine sample when the symptoms first become apparent. Early treatment saves our mom days of feeling bad and being more confused than usual.
Can Utis Be Prevented
These tips can help prevent UTIs:
- In infants and toddlers, change diapers often to help prevent the spread of bacteria that cause UTIs. When kids are potty trained, it’s important to teach them good hygiene. Girls should know to wipe from front to rear not rear to front to prevent germs from spreading from the anus to the urethra.
- School-age girls should avoid bubble baths and strong soaps that might cause irritation. They also should wear cotton underwear instead of nylon because it’s less likely to encourage bacterial growth.
- All kids should be taught not to “hold it” when they have to go. Pee that stays in the bladder gives bacteria a good place to grow.
- Kids should drink plenty of fluids but avoid those with caffeine.
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Check If It’s A Urinary Tract Infection
Symptoms of a UTI may include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- needing to pee more often than usual during the night
- pee that looks cloudy
- 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
What Can Happen If A Uti Is Not Treated
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.
Read Also: Are Urinary Tract Infections Contagious
A Pharmacist Can Help With Utis
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 and can prescribe antibiotics if they’re needed.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Urine Infection
- Infection in the bladder usually causes pain when you pass urine. You pass urine more frequently. You may also have pain in your lower tummy . Your urine may become cloudy, bloody or offensive-smelling. You may have a high temperature .
- Infection in the kidneys may cause you to feel generally unwell. There may be a pain in your back. This is usually around the side of the back , where each kidney is located. You may have a high fever. You may feel sick, or be sick .
In some older people the only symptoms of the urine infection may be becoming confused or just feeling generally unwell.
The confusion is caused by a combination of factors such as having a fever and having a lack of fluid in the body . The confusion should pass when the infection has been treated.
Presentation And Diagnosis Of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria And Symptomatic Uti In Older Adults
Dr N: Do you feel ill from the bladder infection that you can tell?
Mrs M: Just in my head. I dont have any of the accompanying symptoms. Theres no odor, theres no burning or anything like that. But for the past at least half-dozen years, it just has been there, thats all. Every time they took a test, there was a very small amount of E coli. Whatever that means.
Dr N: For me, its just so challenging. Were taught in medical school that you dont treat asymptomatic bacteriuria in people. It doesnt help them. The problem when people have chronic urinary symptoms is that we are trying to determine if this is now a symptomatic bacterial infection and how do I figure out what is a UTI sign or symptom in somebody who has these chronic voiding problems to begin with. So, thats always been the tricky part. She has been hospitalized a couple of times for UTIs. She basically presented with dizziness, had trouble walking, confusion, and low blood pressure. She was admitted and found to have a UTI based on urine cultures. She was treated with antibiotics intravenous fluids and got better.