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What Older Adults Should Know About UTIs

UTIs are uncomfortable.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are an aggravation at any age. But for older adults, UTIs can also cause serious health problems and may not come with the usual symptoms. At Neil Furman, DO, we help patients of all ages in North Miami Beach, Florida, treat the uncomfortable symptoms associated with UTIs.

 

As you get older, your immune system changes and your body ages, making it easier to contract infections. Dr. Furman and our entire care team are committed to helping older adults understand and treat UTIs before they cause lasting damage. 

 

Read on to learn what older adults should know about UTIs and what you can do about them. 

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection happens when an infection takes hold in any part of your urinary system. Although they’re sometimes called bladder infections, UTIs can also take root in your kidneys, urethra, or ureter. 

 

General symptoms of a UTI include:

 

 

If you suspect you might have a UTI, it’s important to seek care as soon as possible. Though UTIs are generally easy to treat, untreated UTIs can cause serious complications, such as kidney infections, permanent damage to your kidneys, or sepsis.

UTIs in older adults

Although people of any age can get a UTI, they can affect older adults differently. If you or someone you love is over the age of 65, here are the top four things you should know about UTIs and older adults:  

1. Symptoms can be different

UTI symptoms in older adults can be different. Although many older adults have the same general UTI symptoms as everyone else, these symptoms can be more severe in older adults or older adults can be asymptomatic. 

 

Older adults can also have additional symptoms that indicate a UTI. These include behavioral changes, such as: 

 

 

Researchers aren’t clear on the reasons that older adults experience different UTI symptoms, but the most widely accepted theory is that as you age, the blood vessels that deliver blood to the brain weaken. This allows infection in the bloodstream to pass more easily into the nervous system.   

2. Use antibiotics carefully

Elevated bacteria in the urine can be one sign of a UTI. But elevated bacteria alone isn’t cause enough for antibiotics. Doctors should only prescribe antibiotics if patients have other UTI symptoms as taking them unnecessarily leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

 

Taking antibiotics can create serious problems in older adults, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, yeast infections, and kidney failure. Though antibiotics are appropriate in many cases, be sure to discuss all symptoms with your doctor to ensure the best course of treatment for you.    

3. Check for underlying causes

Older adults are more likely to have other medical conditions that increase your chances of developing a UTI or UTI-like symptoms. For example, in women, pelvic organ prolapse can mimic some of the more common UTI symptoms, like frequent urge to urinate and pain or pressure in the lower abdomen. In men, an enlarged prostate can lead to feeling like your bladder isn’t empty after urinating or an urgent need to go. 

 

These underlying problems can’t be treated with antibiotics, the usual treatment for a UTI. That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive medical exam with an experienced caregiver. Dr. Furman can check for underlying causes to get to the root cause of your symptoms. 

4. Prevention is the best medicine

About 90% of UTIs are caused by the E. coli bacteria. This bacteria naturally lives in your intestinal tract, but when it comes in contact with the urinary tract system, it can create a UTI. 

 

Fortunately, simple hygiene and lifestyle changes can help stop UTIs before they start: 

 

How can I learn more UTIs and older adults?

The best way to learn more about how UTIs affect older adults is by talking to an experienced medical doctor. Dr. Furman listens to your concerns and questions and takes the time to communicate clearly with you. 


Ready to learn more about UTIs and how they affect older adults? Experiencing symptoms of a UTI?  Contact our North Miami Beach office, or book an appointment online now!

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