You may have heard of the term “UTI” but do not know what it stands for, or you may have experienced a UTI and know exactly how it can affect your health and life. A UTI is a Urinary Tract Infection. Common causes are a weakened immune system, improper or poor hygiene, dehydration, and gut bacteria changes related to aging and medications. The symptoms of a UTI are unlike those presented in younger individuals and can include complete mood and personality change, aggression, and sleepiness or drowsiness occurring without any other explanation. These symptoms can be distressing.
Additionally, an individual may become suddenly lethargic, incontinent, fall frequently, or lose their appetite. It is possible that they have contracted a UTI and have not expressed, or are unable to express that they are not feeling well. Rapid medical attention for examination and testing is extremely important, as a UTI can spread into the bladder and kidneys causing much more severe infection.
If a UTI is suspected, the doctor will ask for a urine sample to test for bacteria and white blood cells. If the urine is indicative of a UTI, the individual will be prescribed an antibiotic. It is extremely important that this antibiotic treatment begin as soon as prescribed and continue as directed throughout the full course of treatment. If the instructions are not followed the result may be recurrent infection or development of resistance to the antibiotic.
General tips for preventing a UTI:
- Drinking 8-10 glasses of plain water every day
- Avoiding sugary drinks
- Changing incontinence pad or brief at the first sign of being soiled
- Practicing good hygiene habits after bowel movements, particularly in women, by wiping front to back
Recognizing the first signs of a UTI in an older adult who cannot express how they are feeling and advocating for a medical evaluation
Staying healthy and strong, recognizing signs and symptoms, and avoiding complications allows for a more fulfilling and enriching life.