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“UT-IQ”: Everything You Need to Know About UTIs

All of your questions about UTIs, answered

· UTIs,Prevention,Health

What is a UTI?

When you hear about urinary tract infections, or UTIs, a few things might come to mind. Frequent urination. A burning sensation. Antibiotics. To put it plainly, UTIs are infections of the urinary system: the kidneys, bladder, ureters or urethra. They typically occur when E. coli enters the urinary tract.

UTIs can occur in both men and women, but are more common in women because they have shorter urethras. Hence, bacteria travels a shorter distance to enter the urinary tract. While people of all ages can get UTIs, these infections are exceedingly common in incontinent adults. In fact, in people age 85 and over, urinary tract infections are the most common diagnosis in the emergency room.

Some of the most common causes of UTIs include not urinating after sex, wiping back to front after using the bathroom, dehydration, and wearing feminine products. Young children with a condition named vesicoureteral reflux, where urine flows back into the urinary tract, are more likely to get UTIs more frequently and at a young age.

UTI Causes in Older Adults

Wearing incontinence undergarments that aren’t changed regularly contributes to the onset of UTIs, so people with conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Parkinson’s are at greater risk. Additionally, both older men and women have weaker bladder muscles that come with age, which means that they have a harder time completely emptying out their bladders. An incompletely emptied bladder allows bacteria to fester in the urinary tract, which could ultimately lead to UTIs.

UTI Symptoms

People with UTIs usually have a number of tell-tale UTI symptoms. These include cloudy or dark urine, chills, frequent urination, and bladder pain. That’s already a lot to deal with, but for older people, especially those with dementia, UTI symptoms are expressed in more extreme and unusual ways. UTIs can cause confusion and agitation, and can even lead to falls. Oftentimes, families or medical professionals confuse UTI symptoms in the elderly population with stroke symptoms.

UTI Treatments for Younger Adults

Once a younger adult feels UTI symptoms, they either consult a doctor for a test or use an over-the-counter dipstick to see if they actually have a UTI. If they, in fact, have an infection, they will normally take antibiotics. Alternative remedies, such as constant hydration and cranberry juice, have been suggested time and time again, but are used far less often than antibiotics, which are a quicker fix.

UTI Treatments for Older Adults

For older adults, however, especially those with forms of cognitive decline such as dementia, the process is more complex. Individuals may have difficulty articulating their symptoms or else exhibit irregular behaviors, like loss of appetite, falls or delusional behavior. It is especially hard to get a clean catch urine sample.

The antibiotics that older people are prescribed at hospitals normally bear dangerous side effects and do nothing to stop UTIs from recurring. People also become immune to the antibiotics as they continue to take them.

By the time an older adult or their family members realize that there may be a UTI, it can be too late, since UTIs lead to bladder infections, kidney infections and sepsis. The individual with the UTI may be admitted to the emergency room for their symptoms, and stay in the hospital, on average, for four days. One of the most commonly used antibiotics for UTIs, Cipro, brings with it a host of side effects like vertigo, bruising, and tenderness. For the elderly, these side effects are a huge burden to deal with along with UTIs and hospital bills.

UTI Prevention 101: Lots of Questions, Very Few Answers

While UTIs are exceedingly common, accounting for approximately 8.1 million doctor visits each year, we don’t know much about how to best prevent them. Hydration seems to be a sensible idea, but is that all we can do? Additional tips, such as wiping in the right direction after going to the bathroom, not holding in your pee, and drinking cranberry juice, have been considered and debunked accordingly. For people who wear adult briefs, especially those with dementia, it becomes harder to prevent UTIs. What can we do about that?

Pixie Scientific

Don’t let the statistics and myths make you feel helpless. With Pixie Smart Pads, you can monitor and manage your or a loved one’s UTIs well before it is too late. Instead of paying exorbitant hospital fees and dealing with the side effects of UTIs, the user can know, early on, what is wrong. In this way, he or she can use safer ways of treating the UTI. What is more, once it is safely treated in the first round, it will be less likely to come back with full force in the future.

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