How do you diagnose a UTI?
In older adults who have symptoms of a UTI, a simple urine test — called a urinalysis — can confirm infection. In some cases, the doctor requests a urine culture to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection and help determine the best antibiotic to treat it.
However, it’s important to know that elders often have bacteria in the urine that don’t cause any symptoms. This condition often resolves on its own without treatment. (Doctors now recommend against doing a urine test to check for a UTI, unless patients have typical, bothersome UTI symptoms. This is to avoid the excessive use of antibiotics to treat infection, which can lead to antibiotic resistance.)
Antibiotics are the first choice of treatment for UTIs. Mild UTIs often clear up in a few days with the right antibiotic.
However, depending on the senior’s age and health plus the severity of the infection, treatment for a UTI may take several weeks and a longer course of antibiotics. In more severe cases, elderly adults may need to be hospitalized to receive IV antibiotics.
If your elderly parent has symptoms of a UTI, it’s important to make an appointment with their doctor right away. If symptoms are severe, call the doctor immediately to determine whether a trip to the emergency room is necessary.
Older adults can help prevent UTIs by drinking plenty of fluids to flush the bacteria from their systems. Also recommended for elderly adults to drink four to six 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets also can make urine less inviting for bacteria.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164