Watch for signs of urinary tract infectionsWhat is the second most common type of infection, responsible for approximately 8.3 million doctor visits each year?
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
What is the second most common type of infection, responsible for approximately 8.3 million doctor visits each year?
It's the urinary tract infection, more commonly known as a bladder infection. Most of these 8.3 million visits are made by seniors and also repeat patients.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be life threatening to an elderly person if it is left untreated. It can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which can cause permanent damage or even kidney failure.
It is also a leading cause of a potentially life threatening infection in the bloodstream called sepsis.
The diagnosis of UTIs in the elderly is much more difficult than in the younger population. Many times the UTI symptoms mimic those of dementia.
Many seniors will not show the usual symptom of a fever. Many of the other common symptoms may be found, but not reported by the elderly - strong-smelling urine, pain with urination, pelvic pressure, night sweats and cloudy or bloody urine.
The most common senior-specific symptoms are confusion or a delirious state, agitation or restlessness, hallucinations, behavioral changes, poor motor skills, dizziness and increase in falls.
UTI treatment is typically a course of antibiotics. Most clear up in a few days but the infection severity will determine the treatment course. Some can take weeks and also involve hospitalization if there is a need for IV antibiotics.
Ways to prevent a UTI include: