Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enters the urethra and infects the urinary tract. These infections are very common, with more than 3 million cases in the United States per year. However, UTIs can be a serious problem for older women and can lead to a variety of complications if left untreated.
The Complications Of UTIs In Seniors
The most common symptoms of a UTI in older women include the urgent need to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, the feeling of a full bladder, dark or cloudy urine, and pressure in the lower abdomen or pelvis. Here at Alliance Urology, we want to ensure you are informed about the possible complications of UTIs in older women.
1. Kidney Infections
There is a very clear link between kidney infections and UTIs— as a kidney infection is a type of urinary tract infection. In fact, about 1 in every 30 cases of UTI leads to a kidney infection. The symptoms of a kidney infection include fever, chills, and pain in your lower back. Those who have frequent bladder infections have a higher risk of getting a kidney infection from a UTI.
This one may come as a shock, but UTIs in older women can cause a sudden state of confusion or changes in mental function. This is due to the brain being more affected by the inflammation and stress hormones that the body produces in response to fighting the infection. According to the National Institute of Health, some symptoms may include confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, falls, urinary incontinence, or poor appetite. These symptoms can often make it difficult to diagnose the underlying cause of delirium, making this a severe complication of UTIs.
3. Urinary Incontinence
When an older woman has a UTI, it is not uncommon for them to experience urinary incontinence. Urine leaves the body through the urethral opening. Those with a UTI have bacteria in that opening, which can travel to the bladder. When this happens, the bladder can become swollen and irritated, causing urine to leak out.
4. Recurrent UTIs
Recurrent urinary tract infections in older women are not uncommon and can be attributed to several factors. Some of these include
- Changes to the structure of the urinary tract
- A weakened immune system
- Chronic conditions
- Antibiotic resistance
Older women should be aware of these factors in order to mitigate their chances of developing recurrent UTIs. If recurrent UTIs are getting in the way of your day-to-day, it is important to reach out to a urologist.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sepsis as the body’s extreme response to an infection. At least 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis each year, and it is considered a life-threatening emergency. Urosepsis is a type of sepsis that is caused by infections, such as UTIs. Symptoms may include a rapid heartbeat, fever, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
6. Increased Hospitalization Visits
UTIs can progress rapidly in older women, especially due to the fact that seniors may experience more severe symptoms. Because of this, they may require hospitalization for proper diagnosis and treatment. It is important to practice proper hygiene in order to mitigate hospital visits due to UTIs. Some tips include regular perineal care, wiping front to back after using the toilet, and avoiding irritating feminine products.
Due to its possible complications, it’s important for older women to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of a UTI. Our state-of-the-art services and procedures at Alliance Urology can help with the diagnosis and treatment of any problem related to the bladder, reproductive, or urinary system. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, please call our office in Greensboro at (336) 274-1114.