Causes of Urinary Tract Infection among the Elderly
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are serious bacterial problems that invade the urinary system and multiply, resulting in an infection. UTI is painful and can be a life-threatening problem if left untreated. Statistics reveal that about 80 to 90 percent of UTI are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), the bacteria that are normally found in the rectum, from where they usually enter and travel through the urethra to the bladder and there cause an infection.
In addition, statistics show that there are more than 9 million people all over the world who suffer from urinary tract infection every year. Women, particularly those who are sexually active, are 30 percent more likely to contract urinary tract infection (UTI) than men and children because of their urethra are much shorter and also closer to anus. And, of the women, the elderly are more susceptible to the infection than the younger ones due to their weakened immune system, which is no longer potent as it was in their younger years. Since the elderly now enters into a stage where the muscles of their bladder have weakened, there is a greater chance that they cannot flush out properly causing some urine to remain there. When the bladder is not fully emptied during urination, small bacteria creeps its way up into the bladder and accumulates over time and this leads to infection.
Besides, elderly men are also likely to develop bladder infection at a rate roughly equal to women, partly because of the enlargement of their prostate. An enlarged prostate obstructs urinary flow and thus causing urine to stagnate. Urinary tract infection among the elderly is usually out of control perhaps due to their age-related conditions. Studies identify some major causes of UTI among the elderly, namely:
Insufficient nutrition. Many elderly persons, especially those who are caring for themselves, do not get appropriate nutrients during meal times, probably because they are unable to properly prepare food for reasons like decreased mobility, inability to care for themselves, and/or limited access to assistance; and so, they tend to settle on the same diet they have been taking over the years, mistakenly thinking their nutritional needs have not changed. Because of this, they usually do not have enough calories, proteins, vitamins and mineral intake. For example, senior frail women should have at least three cups of milks and also a cup half of fruits, and fats that should not ever exceed 130 of calories a day. Because of such insufficiency, these elderly may gradually develop UTI, including cystitis, pyelonephritis and catheter-related infections. Learn more about bladder infection symptoms and also kidney infection symptoms here.
In addition, late detection of UTI among the elderly is related to asymptomatic presence of bacteria. Studies show that between 20 to 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men over the age of 65 have bacteria in their urine without showing any sign.
Another cause of UTI is weak immune system. The elderly are more likely to suffer from UTI because of their weakened immune system. Any disorder affecting the immune system usually raises the risk of urinary tract infection. According to studies, about 30 to 40 percent of the elderly who are having serious UTI do not show signs of fever primarily due to the inability of their immune system to respond.
Moreover, lack of care is another major cause of UTI among the elderly. Often, they do not even know they have UTI and so it goes on untreated. It is advisable, therefore, to have them schedule a regular full body check up to detect any health problem.
Nevertheless, medical experts suggest simple tips on how to prevent or avoid urinary tract infection, including: drinking two to four liters of water every day; taking cranberry tablets with vitamin C; urinating often; pressing the bladder when urinating to ensure that all urine is released.