UTI symptoms in the elderly

Urinary tract infections can affect anyone of any age. The infection occurs within the bladder, kidneys or urethra and can lead to many unpleasant side effects which can then damage the kidneys, leading to further complications if it isn’t diagnosed and treated promptly.

It can be incredibly difficult to diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the elderly. Below we explore common urinary tract symptoms, why the elderly are more prone to UTIs and what you can do to help prevent them.

Why older people are more prone to UTIs

The elderly are incredibly vulnerable when it comes to developing UTIs. Older people generally tend to have a weakened immune system, which when coupled with relaxed bladder muscles and a weakened pelvic floor, can lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder. Urine retention is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a UTI. Coupled with this is the fact that many older people do not drink enough fluids.

Also, older people are often reluctant to empty their bladder frequently, may suffer from constipation, have an enlarged prostate and are generally less mobile. If they have an indwelling catheter then this poses an added risk too.

Common urinary tract symptoms

The common symptoms of a UTI in the general population include a stinging sensation when passing urine, lower back pain, cloudy urine and offensive smelling urine. However, an older person may not have any of these symptoms.

Symptoms in the elderly

Common symptoms in the elderly can include disorientation and confusion, which can be difficult to diagnose in those with dementia. The individual may also seem agitated, feel dizzy and exhibit poor motor skills. Sometimes an older person may also show signs of depression.

What you can do

Older people can very easily become dehydrated so it’s important to offer them regular fluids. Encourage them to empty their bladder on a regular basis and be vigilant for any signs of confusion or agitation.

If you are concerned that an elderly relative or loved one has a urinary tract infection, please do seek medical advice as soon as possible.

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