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The Most Effective Ways to Manage and Prevent UTIs In the Elderly

User Category: General HealthOn: August 28, 2013

Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the human body, and account for about 8.1 million visits to health care providers annually. Because of advanced age and clinical conditions, older adults are at greater risk for developing urinary infections and can develop severe – even fatal – side effects as a result.  Luckily, once it is spotted diagnosing and treating an elderly urinary tract infection is fairly simple. A urinalysis can identify the cause of the infection. Home tests can be used under the support and guidance of a physician. If bladder, urinary, or kidney abnormalities are suspected as a cause, an ultrasound exam, X-ray, or CAT scan may be necessary to determine what underlying causes are contributing to the condition.  For most, antibiotics are the first course of treatment.  Depending on the senior’s health and the severity of the infection, hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics may be needed. Typically patients see improvement within a few days, but if the UTI is advanced, treatment can take weeks.  How can you help reduce your loved one’s risk for contracting a UTI and prevent urinary infections in the future?

  • Drink fluids (2 to 4 quarts each day) - Water flushes bacteria out of the body, helping prevent UTIs. Encourage your loved one to drink plenty of fluids and monitor their fluid intake.
  • Manage stress incontinence – Persons with urinary incontinence may limit their water intake to avoid excessive bathroom trips, which unfortunately allows bacteria to build up in the urinary tract.  Keep your urine clear by drinking an adequate amount of fluids.
  • Void the patient – Urine should not stay in the bladder too long.
  • Prevent constipation – Constipation prevents the bladder from properly emptying which can increase risk of a urine infection
  • Set reminders – For patients with memory impairment or dementia, set reminders to use the bathroom.
  • Encourage front-to-back cleansing – For women, its important to prevent fecal matter from reaching the urethra.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Change the adult briefs frequently.
  • Adhere to healthy dietary habits – Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these irritate the bladder. Consuming plenty of fiber-filled fruits and vegetables will encourage a healthy urinary tract and bowel.