If you’re reading this article, you probably know that UTIs are common; about 80% of people experience at least one in their lifetime. What may not be as apparent is the risk of getting a UTI as you get older. When you have a UTI, it can be caused by bacteria from the environment or your own body, and the result can be pretty painful and inconvenient. Along with that comes potential health risks if left untreated. But there’s good news too! Unlike some other health issues associated with aging, there are simple solutions for most cases of frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Read on to learn more about the risks of getting a UTIs as you age and tips for preventing it from happening again.
The Symptoms of a UTI
If you have a UTI, you’ll likely have a fever and a painful, burning feeling in your lower abdomen or back. There may also be a strong-smelling discharge from your vagina or urethra. It’s important to note that some people don’t experience these symptoms, especially if they have a milder case of UTIs. If your symptoms are mild, you can try preventive measures like stress reduction, drinking enough water, and taking probiotics. In addition to the symptoms described above, a UTI can result in a pyuria stain on your urine. Pyuria is a cloudy or white appearance in your urine, and it can be a sign of a more severe condition.
Risk Factors for Frequent UTIs
There are a few reasons for this. One is a higher incidence of the weakened urinary tract in older people. Another is that some medications have been associated with frequent UTIs, such as those that lower your immune systems, such as statins and beta-blockers. The association between statins and frequent UTIs is especially concerning as studies have found that more than 60% of people over 65 years old have this risk factor! UTIs have been linked to diabetes too. This link may be due to the fact that there’s a higher incidence of diabetes and weakened urinary tract in people prone to frequent UTIs. Additionally, frequent UTIs are often accompanied by kidney stones, which are also more common in people with diabetes.
Tips for Preventing UTIs in the Elderly
- Drink lots of water. The more water you drink, the less often you’ll have to urinate, which will help to keep your urinary tract healthy. Drink a minimum of 2 liters of water a day, especially if you’re a woman over 50 years old.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and soft drinks. Studies have shown that people who drink a lot of caffeine have a higher incidence of frequent UTIs. Alcohol is also a common culprit. Both of these substances dehydrate you, which can weaken your urinary tract.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is especially important for older people. Studies have found that those who don’t get enough sleep have a higher incidence of frequent UTIs.
- Practice good hygiene. Make sure you wash your hands often and practice good hygiene when you use the bathroom, such as not touching your eyes, mouth, or genitals.
- Keep your pelvic area clean. If you have a catheter or a urinary tract infection, urinating in a clean container or sitting down can reduce the risk of infecting your catheter or urinary tract with bacteria.
- Get a UTI screening test. Once a year, get a blood test to check your liver function. This blood test can detect liver damage caused by frequent UTIs.
- Get treatment. If you have a UTI, see a doctor. There are various treatments available, including antibiotics, that can help you feel better fast.