Urinary tract infections are most common in older women for two reasons. First, women are generally more likely to get a UTI because of the physical structure of their urinary tract. The female anatomy includes a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria only needs to travel a short distance to reach deeper into the urinary tract.
If left untreated, a UTI can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which could permanently damage these vital organs and even lead to kidney failure. UTIs are also a leading cause of sepsis, an extreme and potentially life-threatening bodily response to an infection.
UTIs can cause a significant and distressing change in someone’s behaviour that is commonly referred to as ‘ acute confusional state ‘ or ‘ delirium ‘. Delirium is a change in someone’s mental state and usually develops over one or two days .
Because our immune system changes as we get older , it responds differently to the infection. Instead of pain symptoms, seniors with a UTI may show increased signs of confusion , agitation or withdrawal.
The classic symptoms of a urinary tract infection ( UTI ) are burning pain and frequent urination. UTIs may not cause these classic symptoms in older adults . Instead, older adults , especially those with dementia, may experience behavioral symptoms such as confusion.
When left untreated , UTIs can cause serious problems in the elderly , including permanent kidney damage and sepsis, a generalized and potentially life-threatening infection.
The main danger associated with untreated UTIs is that the infection may spread from the bladder to one or both kidneys. When bacteria attack the kidneys, they can cause damage that will permanently reduce kidney function. In people who already have kidney problems, this can raise the risk of kidney failure.
Infections can also cause temporary memory loss . One of the most common among seniors is urinary tract infection ( UTI ). Some other symptoms of UTI include a change in behavior, confusion, a decreased appetite and depression. Once treatment is started, many patients see improvement in these symptoms within a few days.
By drinking more water, the urge to urinate will become more frequent. Urinating more often prevents infecting bacteria that cause UTIs from building up. Get moving: Elderly people who are sedentary have a higher risk for UTIs . Walking more frequently, even in small increments, helps in preventing UTIs in the elderly .
People shouldn’t die from a UTI , but if sepsis begins to take over and develops to severe sepsis and then to septic shock, this is exactly what can happen. More than half the cases of urosepsis among older adults are caused by a UTI .
Older women are more likely to get UTIs because the bladder muscles weaken and make it hard to fully empty the bladder . This causes urine to stay in the bladder . When urine stays in the bladder too long, it makes an infection more likely.
If the cause of delirium is properly identified and treated, delirium often lasts less than one month from the onset of symptoms to the time of recovery. However, an episode of delirium may last anywhere from a few hours to many weeks, depending on the cause and necessary treatment.
If the infection moves upstream to the kidneys, additional symptoms are likely, such as fatigue , weakness or feeling faint , and difficulty walking or thinking clearly. Other symptoms could include a fever of 101 F or greater, shaking and chills, upper back and side pain, and nausea or vomiting.
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole , nitrofurantoin , and fosfomycin are the most preferred antibiotics for treating a UTI.
Sepsis Symptoms Fever and chills. Very low body temperature. Peeing less than usual. Fast heartbeat. Nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea. Fatigue or weakness. Blotchy or discolored skin.
Most UTIs aren’t serious. But if left untreated, the infection can spread up to the kidneys and bloodstream and become life-threatening. Kidney infections can lead to kidney damage and kidney scarring . Symptoms of a UTI usually improve within two to three days after starting antibiotic therapy.