While Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) can happen to anyone, they most commonly occur in the elderly and also brings about the most inconvenience, especially for those that experience mobility issues. The risk of developing UTIs in the elderly is related to how frail a person is, which also affects their odds of developing other issues such as delirium.
Urinary tract infection can happen in any part of your urinary system, from the kidneys and ureters up to the bladder and urethra. In most cases, infections occur in the lower urinary tract. Women are also more likely to develop a UTI as compared to men.
Does Having a UTI Cause Confusion In The Elderly?
While the classic symptoms of UTI are frequent urination and burning pain, these might not be the same symptoms that seniors will show after developing a UTI. Instead of urinary issues, older adults, particularly those with dementia, may instead display behavioral symptoms like confusion. As such, many people assume that seniors who experience confusion have a UTI.
The incidence of delirium and confusion greatly increases with age, but not all of them are linked to UTI. While UTIs have been proven to be linked with confusion, other reasons are just as likely to be responsible, such as cognitive impairment, malnourishment, dehydration, depression, and memory-related problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the most common reason behind delirium is dehydration.
Symptoms of UTIs in The Elderly
Seniors who develop UTI tend to show more than one symptom of UTI. If you suspect that a loved one might have a UTI, some signs to look out for include:
- Worsening urinary urgency and frequency
- Tenderness above the pubic bone, in the lower abdomen area
- Sudden pain when urinating
- Experiencing a fever over 100.5 °F
If someone exhibits two or more of the above symptoms, along with positive urine culture, that person is likely to have a UTI.
Causes of UTI
While most people think that elevated urinary bacteria is responsible for UTI, the truth is that they don’t cause any symptoms and can be easily corrected by increasing fluid intake. Doctors should only treat elevated urinary bacteria with antibiotics only when there is confirmation that someone is experiencing a UTI. Should unnecessary antibiotic treatment be used for elevated urinary bacteria, it can increase the body’s antibiotic resistance and make future potential UTIs more difficult to treat.
As such, treatment for UTIs should begin with lighter antibiotics that are less likely to lead to antibiotic resistance. These drugs are also less likely to develop unwanted side effects.
A non-exhaustive list of tried-and-proven strategies to reduce the risk of developing UTI include:
- Promoting urinary and genital hygiene
- Ensuring sufficient fluid intake
- Consuming the right foods that are high in antioxidants
- For postmenopausal women, doctors can prescribe low-dose vaginal cream to rejuvenate vaginal skin and to allow the presence of good bacteria
Living With UTI
If you know of someone or have a loved one going through UTI, it is important to ensure that they are properly cared for due to how inconvenient and frustrating a UTI can be.