We all are aware of the painful and challenging symptoms that Urinary Tract Infection or UTI brings along.
From the burning pain, while urinating to fever, nausea, and back pain, UTIs can be big trouble disrupting your everyday life.
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For younger adults, it usually occurs due to frequent sexual intercourse but for older people, it can be caused due to many old-age health issues such as arthritis, stroke, or COPD and lack of personal hygiene and self-care. (1)
Older people might go through even worse symptoms of UTI, one of the common ones being deterioration of their emotional and mental health.
Scroll down to know more!
1. How Can UTI Cause Emotional/Behavioral Changes in Old People?
The answer is simple, as you grow old, you slowly lose control over your sensory organs and your mind becomes slower.
As you get an infection such as UTI, your body may take longer to heal the disease and it may affect your other organs too such as your brain.
So, when you feel the general symptoms of UTI such as fatigue, fever, nausea, and difficulty in peeing, your mind gets confused, irritated, and uneasy which will cause behavioral and emotional changes in you. (2)
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Older folks with mental diseases such as Alzheimers or dementia may witness even worseUTI behavioral symptoms as they are not capable of understanding any changes that take place in their body and they are unable to effectively communicate their problems to anyone.
Their caregivers might not understand that changes in their behavioral patterns are because of a UTI.
Amanda Smith who is the MD, medical director, and director at Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida says that “older adults often present different, and often unusual UTI symptoms; their signs of infection can be completely behavioral that may become difficult to understand for their caregivers”. (1)
2. CommonUTI psychological symptoms in old adults
Now that you know UTIs can have psychological and emotional impacts on older adults too, let us now know how they affect them.
Some of the common UTI psychological symptoms are - (3)
- Change in motor skills such as walking, exercising, etc.
- Change in behavior - crankiness, uneasiness, rudeness, etc.
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of appetite
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Apart from these, a UTI-infected old adult may show other mental symptoms too, make sure you get them checked if they show any of the above symptoms so that they can start with the right medication on time.
3. Causes of UTIs in Old Age
You must be thinking that if UTI is a problem for young people, as it is commonly called “honeymooner’s disease”,
How can it affect old people too?
Many reasons can cause urinary infections in old people, sometimes it may not be similar to those of young adults, but these causes can bring UTIs in old age.
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Some of the causes of UTI in old age are - (4)
- Lack of fluids such as water in the body
- Disturbed bowel
- Urinary retention
- Immobility for a long time
- Lack of personal hygiene (especially in the intimate area)
- Recent surgery (particularly around urinary tract such as bladder or urethra)
- Kidney stones
- Enlarged prostate
- Use of urinary catheter
- Urinary retention
4. How can you cure/curbUTI emotional symptoms?
In case the old adults in your home show any of the symptoms discussed above, you must immediately send their urine sample for UTI test to the pathological labs.
Once you are sure that these symptoms are caused by UTI, get them treated by their doctors and start their medication as soon as you can.
If UTI is not treated on time, it can have adverse effects on your health whether you are young or old.
UTI is usually caused due to infection in the bladder or urethra, but if not treated on time, it can reach your kidneys and even infect your blood and cause fatal septicemia.
Therefore, timely treatment is necessary if you have a UTI.
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Sometimes, the UTIs heal themselves and do not need any medical supervision, but in the case of older people, the body’s immune system might not be strong enough to heal the infection on its own, which is why they need to treat UTIs through antibiotics.
Treating UTIs will also rid them of their unusual behavior, and otherUTI mental health symptomsthat they had been showing because of the infection.
5. Preventive Measures for UTI in Old Adults
Someone rightly said “precaution is better than cure”, and in this case, it is always a better option!
We know how difficult it is for you to take care of your old parents especially when they are sick or unhealthy, that is why we have listed a few tips below that you can follow to prevent UTI symptoms from developing in your parents and keep their urinary tract healthy.
Image credits: La Jolla Nurses Homecare
1. In case you assist your parents in the toilet, make sure that they wipe their genitals with clean tissue from the front to back as many UTI-causing germs are present in the anus area and they might transfer to the urethra if they wipe it from the back to front. (4)
|2. Make sure that they wear clean cotton underwear and regularly change it to keep their intimate area clean and hygienic.|
3. Do not give them a lot of drinks that contain caffeine (caffeine can cause UTIs)
4. Give them plenty of water to drink as it will wash away any harmful germs stored in their urinary passage.
5. Encourage them to take their medicines on time and take care of their mental health as poor mental health can weaken their immunity and make them susceptible to unwanted diseases such as UTIs. (5)
6. The bottom line is -
UTI should not be taken lightly as it does not only have physical effects but serious mental health effects too.
We should protect ourselves as well as the elders of our family against UTI, and in case it still comes, give the best treatment to help cure it soon.
Our parents and grandparents are our loved ones and therefore, it's our responsibility to make sure they lead a healthy life.