Urinary Tract Infection
Prevention, Symptoms & Home Remedies
Have you ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI)? If so, you may think you know the primary signs of a UTI in your elderly loved one. Chances are .... you are wrong !!
As we age, our immune responses change over time. The burning, pain and frequent urge to urinate that YOU may feel with a bladder infection is not what an elderly person may feel. Surprisingly, the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection in the elderly are:
New onset of incontinence. If your loved one is normally continent and you see a sudden change, think UTI.Change in level of consciousness. If yesterday they were able to feed and dress themselves and today they can't because they are too lethargic, think UTI.Change in behavior. This can be increased confusion, delusions or an increase in aggressive behaviors. If you see these signs and they are new or worse, think UTI.Change in balance. Falls are sometimes the first sign of an infection. If it is new or a change, think UTI.
Instinct plays a role in catching this diagnosis. You know your loved one best and what constitutes a change. If you notice these changes and suspect a urinary tract infection, call your doctor.
I would make a suggestion to say something similar to this:
"Mom had a fall yesterday and isn't making it to the bathroom in time. She just seems different and I am afraid she has a bladder infection".
Any good medical office will get her in right away for a urine test. You should always request a urine test if it isn't offered. They are inexpensive and if a culture is performed to see exactly what bacteria is causing the infection, an appropriate antibiotic can be prescribed.
If antibiotics are prescribed, complete all the pills in the bottle. Do not save or stop taking the antibiotics once symptoms resolve. Only taking partial prescription may lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and make further treatment difficult and expensive.
Think of it this way: If there were 100 bacteria present and you only gave the antibiotics for 4 days of a 7 day prescription, at the end of the day you will have, say, 30 bacteria left. Those 30 were the hardest to kill for the antibiotic. Now they multiply and with the next UTI, you have 100 that are ONLY the hardest to kill.
It doesn't happen every time, but it is a serious risk. Take all the medication your doctor prescribes at the schedule he recommends. If you have questions, don't forget to use your pharmacist as a great resource.
The key is in prevention. Not all bladder infections are preventable, but many are. Take these steps, every day, to decrease the risk of getting the infection in the first place.
- Always wash your hands before and after using the restroom or providing incontinent care.
- Drink plenty of hydrating fluids.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Consider hormone replacement therapy if your loved one has gone through menopause. A link has been shown between the decrease of estrogen post-menopause and an increase in the incidents of bladder infection.
- Always wipe from front to back.
- Clean thoroughly after any bowel incontinent episode.
- Consider taking cranberry supplements and Vitamin C daily. Always talk with the doctor involved before starting any supplements.
- Avoid irritating foods and drinks: chocolate, cheese, dairy products, alcohol, caffeinated and carbonated beverages.
- Avoid using deodorant sprays or powders in the groin area. Use only a talc based powder if you must.
- Try drinking fresh berry juice daily. If fresh berries are not available, try using frozen, unsweetened berries. Blend in a blender and drink morning and night.
- Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners if you can.
By following the prevention tips above .... you can decrease the risk of your loved one getting a urinary tract infection. You can also decrease the risk of repeated infections which can cause irritation to the lining of the bladder and may eventually lead to kidney infection and damage.
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